US President Donald Trump has declared that he wants to see investments made to improve the Soo Locks, which link Lake Superior and Lake Huron.
The President spoke out on the issue while addressing an audience in Macomb County, Michigan, after having his attention drawn by a petition from that state’s lawmakers.
A project to modernize the ageing locks was approved by Congress way back in 1986 but has never secured proper funding.
One of the reasons for the hold-up has been delays to a study by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which could provide a cost-benefit rating that would allow the project to compete for construction funding against other navigation projects.
New locks are needed because the existing ones are old and not big enough to handle many modern vessels.
There are four Soo Locks, the largest of which is the Poe Lock. The locks, at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, are a vital link in the chain of US steel production and the auto industry.
It is estimated that replacing two outdated locks with a 1,200-foot long lock so that traffic could keep moving if the Poe Lock needs repairs would cost around a billion dollars.
President Trump said he would be pressing USACE to speed up the funding process for the lock improvements.