SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. --
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District and New Lock at the Soo contractor Kokosing Alberici Traylor, LLC (KAT) will host an in-person and virtual public meeting 6 p.m., July 10, 2023, to inform the public of blasting activities needed for project construction.
The Corps of Engineers contracted KAT to complete Phase 3 construction of the New Lock at the Soo. This work includes excavation and installation of a shaft and tunnel scheduled for this year.
“The project team will blast as the means to fracture the existing bedrock to be excavated and removed,” Rachel Miller, New Lock Contracting Officer’s Representative said. “All blasting will be completed within the Corps of Engineers Soo Locks facility on the island north of the existing decommissioned Sabin Lock.”
Blasting activities will take place from late July through the remainder of the year on a semiregular basis. The contractor is permitted to conduct blasting Monday through Sunday during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset). The Corps of Engineers and KAT do not anticipate blasting to be conducted on any Sundays at this time.
“For 2023 blasting activities, the Corps of Engineers does not anticipate impacts to any public roadways or land areas outside of the Soo Locks facility,” Mick Awbrey, New Lock Chief said. “However, each blast will be evaluated to ensure the safety of the public. During blasting, guards will be posted at all access points to ensure no persons will be allowed within 300 feet of the blast radius.”
Marine traffic on the St. Marys River will not be allowed within 1,000 feet (Figure 1: shown in blue) at the time of any blast detonations for recreational boats, fishermen, swimmers, and general waterborne public. Red Flag Vessels, transporting bulk fuel or other hazardous materials, will not be allowed within 2,000 feet (Figure 1: shown in red) during blasts. All exclusion zones are coordinated with the Soo Locks Lockmaster as well as the United States Coast Guard. Prior to blasting, an airhorn will be sounded five long times indicating that the blast will occur in five minutes. At one minute before a blast, an airhorn will be sounded five short times. Then the blast will be detonated. After the detonation the master blaster will confirm the completion of the blast and give the “all clear” consisting of one long sound from an airhorn or siren. The figure below shows the blasting location and affected marine vessel areas for 2023 work.
Figure 1: New Lock at the Soo blasting radius
“The New Lock at the Soo construction contract includes measures to monitor and control vibrations due to blasting,” Hal Harrington, Detroit District Biologist said. “Two fish species use the tailrace area directly north of the blasting location for spawning—Atlantic Salmon and Lake Sturgeon. The vibration monitoring locations and limitations on peak particle vibrations (PPV) for the contract have been restricted to account for these spawning areas. The contractor is required to design and control all blasts to meet a maximum PPV of 1.0 inches per second at both spawning locations. This limitation is specifically in place to prevent negative impacts to fish.”
The goal during New Lock at the Soo construction is to minimize or eliminate negative impacts to the community and other affected parties. The safety measures being enacted to clear marine vessels within the affected areas will be applied immediately preceding and during blasts. Additionally, there will be no permanent explosive storage or overnight explosive storage on site at the Soo Locks facility. The safety of all accessing the waterways is a priority.
The public meeting will be held in the Superior Room of Lake Superior State University, located at 650 W. Easterday Ave, Sault Ste. Marie. The public meeting is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday July 10, 2023. Those who prefer to attend virtually can join the meeting at: NewLockattheSooTeams. A slideshow presentation will be briefed by the Corps of Engineers as well as KAT’s blasting specialist, blasting consultant, and vibration specialist. The presentation slides will be made available after the public meeting at https://www.lre.usace.army.mil/About/Highlighted-Projects/New_Soo_Lock/.
After the presentation, the public will have the opportunity to ask general questions about their concerns dealing with the blasting operations, magnitude of seismic motion, airblast overpressure, and potential for flyrock debris.
Additional blasting activities in the chamber of the existing decommissioned Sabin Lock are scheduled for the 2024 spring-summer-fall construction season. These blasting activities will differ in scope and location from the shaft and tunnel blasting but will implement many of the same mitigating measures. The Corps of Engineers will provide additional notice related to the lock chamber blasting approximately 30 days in advance.
To find more information on the New Lock at the Soo, visit the Detroit District Website: https://www.lre.usace.army.mil/About/Highlighted-Projects/New_Soo_Lock/.