The Soo Locks will be closing to through traffic at 11:59 PM Friday for annual winter maintenance. The channel will be closed until March 25th to allow for various infrastructure improvements. The Army Corps of Engineers, in a release, says that work on the locks is unique compared to other projects across the country. The first step is to place and seal bulkheads which requires dive teams to enter freezing water.
After that work is completed, the channels are drained fully. A majority of the work centers on the Poe Lock, which is capable of handling 1,000 foot freighters carrying valuable resources like iron ore. Repairs will be conducted to the miter gates, used to raise and lower the water levels within the locks. The drainage system will also be inspected and fixed as needed so that winter maintenance can continue in future years.
Both the US Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers take the opportunity to conduct ship maintenance during this period and ice cutters will begin to clear pathways across the Great Lakes in the coming months, starting in the Straits of Mackinac before returning to Lake Superior in March.