Cambensy on right side of Great Lakes construction effort

A Michigan State House resolution authored and introduced by state Rep. Sara Cambensy urging Uncle Sam to support Great Lakes infrastructure and specifically Soo Locks reconstruction certainly has our support, especially given the toxicity of governance in Washington and the necessity of robust federal support.

House Resolution 160 implores Congress and other federal agencies to “provide greater support for ports, harbors and critical Great Lakes infrastructure, including the Soo Locks reconstruction project.” It was unanimously approved by the House Committee on Commerce and Tourism late last week.

In a press release, Cambensy, D-Marquette, voiced pleasure that the measure was moving through the legislative process, which is part of a comprehensive effort to formally call on the federal government to adopt the Great Lakes 2020 Agenda and take meaningful action to protect the health, economy and ecology of Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

“I appreciate my colleague’s bipartisan unanimous support of this resolution, and their commitment to ensuring the Soo Locks remain strong and viable going forward. It is impossible to overstate the critical importance of the Locks for the regional and national economy. I look forward to continuing to advocate on this issue in the days and weeks ahead,” Cambensy said in the release.

The numbers here are nothing less than mind boggling. Because 100% of iron ore mined in the U.S. — worth $500 billion annually — passes through the Soo Locks, the facility is of paramount importance. The locks handle 68 million tons of commerce each year and save industries around $2.7 billion in transportation costs. Furthermore, according to an economic report cited in the release, if the locks were ever forced to close, it would cause $160 million in decreased economic development within 30 days and the loss of 11 million jobs within six months.

If the locks were to close, 100% of North American auto production would stop within weeks of a closure and the nation’s gross domestic product would decrease by $1.3 trillion.

Both the state and federal governments have committed funds to constructing a new lock but no actual brick-and-mortar work has been undertaken.

The Soo Locks project is one that’s been discussed, and discussed, for decades. It’s time Washington ponied up the money to do the job.


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