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MacArthur Lock in Soo Canal closing for repair; maintenance work by Ryba Marine Construction for $7.276 million

Posted on December 7, 2021

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich., – The Soo Locks’ MacArthur Lock will close to marine traffic 7:00 a.m. Dec. 15, 2021 through 12:01 a.m. April 30, 2022 to perform critical maintenance.

The Poe Lock will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Jan. 15, 2021 or until commercial traffic ceases, whichever occurs first. The operating season is fixed by federal regulation and is driven in part by vessel operation ability in typical ice conditions.

“The 800-foot-long MacArthur Lock, built in 1943, is 78 years old; the maintenance period is critical to keeping the lock in operation during the shipping season,” Maintenance Branch Chief LeighAnn Ryckeghem said.

Every year, the Corps of Engineers uses the winter period to perform maintenance to keep the Soo Locks operating. The Sault Ste. Marie Project Office works long hours in extreme conditions to complete a significant amount of maintenance during this annual closure period. The work they perform is unique, especially given the harsh northern Michigan conditions they work in.

There are several projects on the MacArthur Lock to complete before reopening in March.

“The first step is to place the upper and lower bulkheads, then our dive team goes into the freezing water to seal the bulkheads and prepare the lock for dewatering,” Ryckeghem said.

The team will install a temporary panel bridge across the MacArthur Lock. This panel bridge will provide the ability to mobilize materials and equipment to the job sites throughout the winter closure. Maintenance crews will complete hydraulic steel structure inspections and repair the MacArthur Lock’s miter gate 5 sill. Contractors will complete MacArthur Lock tainter valve machinery replacement.

Morrish-Wallace Construction Inc. d/b/a/ Ryba Marine Construction from Cheboygan, Mich., was awarded a $7.276 million to replace the MacArthur Lock tainter valve machinery. “The contract was awarded in August of 2020 due to the long lead time needed to manufacture the mechanical components,” Chief of Construction Nicholas Pettit said. The scheduled construction completion date is April 30, 2022.

In addition to the above, crews also perform a wide range of other maintenance tasks from fender timber replacements on the piers to inspections and preventative maintenance on electrical and mechanical systems.

Watch the Detroit District Facebook page for updates about the maintenance work.

More than 4,500 vessels, carrying up to 80 million tons of cargo, maneuver through the locks annually. Iron ore, coal, wheat and limestone are the most frequently carried commodities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, maintains a navigation system of 95 harbors, including the Great Lakes Connecting Channels that join lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie.

To find more information on the Soo Locks, visit the Detroit District Website:

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