Soo Locks' MacArthur Lock reopens after extended closure for repairs

MacArthur Lock Soo Locks.jpg
Posted at 8:38 AM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 08:38:18-04

(WXYZ) — The MacArthur Lock at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie reopened to shipping traffic on Sunday after a critical repair that took longer than planned.

Originally, the lock was set to reopen in April, but crews first had to replace the almost 79-year-old tainter valve machinery, which was original to the lock built in 1943.

The lock was closed for an extra 59 days while crews worked to complete the replacement.

"The tainter valve machinery replacement contract was a very large task," Soo Locks Construction Chief Nicholas Pettit said. "The original machinery had to be cut into pieces and removed by crane out through a small access tunnel. The new machinery had to be fabricated in sections, lowered by crane in through the small tunnel and installed inside of the lock."

The work did set up the MacArthur Lock to continue operating into the future. It left only the Poe Lock open to shipping traffic, which could lead to backups in the river for shipping traffic.

Soo Locks crews said this shows the importance of the new lock project at the Soo Locks, which is currently under construction. If the extended closure happened to the Poe Lock, which handles the largest ships on the lakes, it would've nearly halted all shipping.

"The extended MacArthur Lock closure caused increased wait times for many vessels using the Soo Locks," Area Engineer Kevin Sprague said. "The maintenance team worked with the contractor to get the tainter valve machinery project completed as quickly as possible. Our locks crews also worked very hard keeping vessels moving through the Poe Lock as quickly and safely as possible."