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MacArthur Lock closing for seasonal repair, maintenance

Detroit District
Published Dec. 15, 2022
View of the MacArthur Lock looking west to the International Bridge and CN Railroad Bridge.

The MacArthur Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan prepares to close for critical maintenance. The 800-foot-long MacArthur Lock, built in 1943, is 79 years old; the maintenance period is critical to keeping the lock in operation during the shipping season.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich., - The Soo Locks’ MacArthur Lock will close to marine traffic 7:00 a.m. Dec. 17, 2022, through 12:01 a.m. April 24, 2023, to perform critical maintenance.

The Poe Lock will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Jan. 15, 2023, or until commercial traffic ceases, whichever occurs first. The operating season is fixed by federal regulation and is driven in part by vessel operability in typical ice conditions. 

“The 800-foot-long MacArthur Lock, built in 1943, is 79 years old; the maintenance period is critical to keeping the lock in operation during the shipping season,” Maintenance Branch Chief Nicholas (Nick) Pettit said.

Pettit, new Maintenance Branch Chief at the Soo Locks will oversee the team executing this year’s seasonal repairs.  

“Nick has been the Soo Resident Office Construction Chief working on numerous complex projects and has been instrumental in the success of operations and maintenance programs,” Operations Manager LeighAnn Ryckeghem said. “His education, experience, leadership and ambition for continued career development lend him to being well equipped for the Maintenance Branch Chief”.

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.

The MacArthur Lock will undergo repairs and upgrades before reopening in April.

“The major MacArthur Lock winter maintenance work includes tainter valve repairs and installing encoders,” Pettit said.

In addition, crews will 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 system.

To complete the scheduled work, the MacArthur Lock will not need to be dewatered. The lock will be kept at a low pool level for the duration of the maintenance. Not having to dewater, will save time at the beginning and at the end of the maintenance period.

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.

Follow 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 Soo 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 including 81 harbors and channels joining lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie.

To find more information on the Soo Locks, visit the Detroit District Website: or contact Detroit District Public Affairs Specialist Carrie Fox, 906-259-2841.


Carrie Fox

Release no. 22-029

Chick Lock

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