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Replacement Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Posted: 12/22/2016

Expiration date:


The Detroit District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), is providing this notice as an update to the replacement lock study for the Sault Locks Complex at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. A Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the replacement lock was completed in 1985 and a Record of Decision (ROD) was signed in 2009 (Enclosure 1). The attached ROD describes the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to date. We are reviewing the existing NEPA documentation against current conditions.

The proposed action involves constructing a new lock, similar in size to the Poe Lock, to provide redundancy in lock operations to ensure continued passage of the largest freighters on the Great Lakes between Lake Superior and the remaining Great Lakes. The new lock would be constructed in place of two existing, smaller locks (Davis and Sabin, Enclosure 2). This action and the alternatives considered are described in the 1985 FEIS, which is available at, www.lre.usace.army.mil by following the link in the lower left of the page under the heading "Other Public Notices."

The anticipated construction sequence would begin with closure of the Davis Lock using steel sheet piling (SSP) at both the upstream and downstream ends to form a temporary cofferdam to allow for the dewatering of the site. (The Sabin Lock is already closed and the ends sealed.) Both locks would then be de-watered and the replacement lock constructed in the dry in place of the Sabin Lock. The floor of the Sabin Lock will be removed and a new floor constructed 6 feet deeper for the replacement lock. The north wall of the Sabin Lock will be refurbished to serve as the north wall of the new lock. As the replacement lock would be wider than the Sabin Lock, it would extend south approximately 30 feet into the pier that currently separates the Sabin and Davis Locks. A new south wall would be constructed within the existing pier area. A cut would be made through the existing pier to provide access to place demolition debris into the Davis Lock, which is to be filled to grade. The remainder of the demolition debris will be placed at the Northwest Pier to form a wind break to assist approaching vessels in entering the lock.

The existing concrete sluiceway and bridge that forms part of the north Sabin Lock wall would be reconstructed and strengthened to provide truck access to the Northwest Pier for moving demolition debris from the lock construction area to the Pier. Concurrent with lock construction, approximately 5000 feet of the upstream approach channel would be deepened from 24 feet to 29 feet to accommodate the larger draft vessels and tie into the existing approach channel for the Poe Lock. The blasted rock removed from deepening the upstream approach channel would be placed on the Northwest Pier. The downstream approach channel was deepened a few years ago.

The potential environmental effects of constructing the replacement lock have been reviewed and compared to those described in the 1985 FEIS and subsequent documentation described in the attached ROD. We have determined that there are no new conditions that would warrant supplementing the existing NEPA documentation.  Therefore, we plan to document the current conditions in an internal memorandum for the record, including any considerations that may be provided in response to this notice. If a significant issue were raised that is not adequately addressed in the existing NEPA documentation, then the need for supplemental NEPA documentation
would be re-evaluated.

Pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act (specifically 36 CFR 800.2(d)(2)) we are seeking comments from any person who has a historical or cultural interest that may be affected by the proposed project. Comments must clearly set forth what historical/cultural interest may be affected by the proposed project. If no comments are received by the end of the 30-day review period, it will be assumed that you have no comment. Additionally, the USACE will also seek comments from federally recognized tribes, the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service under Section 106 of the NHPA.

We also invite comments regarding any factors related to the proposed replacement lock with respect to the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and other applicable legislation. A response within 30 days will help ensure that your concerns and comments are properly evaluated. Any questions regarding this notice may be directed to Mr. Hal Harrington (313-226-5043) or me (313-226-2476).