US Army Corps of Engineers
Detroit District Website

Public Notice Manager

Integrated Project Office on the Soo Locks Historic Property Section 106 Alternative Analysis and Draft Memorandum of Agreement

United States Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District
Published Dec. 16, 2020
Expiration date: 1/16/2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Detroit District, is proposing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to provide office space necessary to execute and oversee construction of a new lock at the Soo Locks Complex, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. This would require the installation of a semi-permanent, one story, single modular structure that is comprised of multiple pre-engineered structures linked together to provide adequate space for new lock personnel. This notice is provided pursuant to Section 800.6 of 36 C.F.R Part 800, Protection of Historic Properties, and Section 106 of 54 U.S.C. Subtitle III, National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). A copy of the draft MOA and Section 106 of NHPA Alternative Analysis Document can be provided upon request or can be reviewed online at http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/ by clicking on the link to “Other Public Notice” in the bottom left corner.

The proposed project will provide adequate resident office space, or an Integrated Project Office (IPO), to the personnel needed to oversee construction of a new lock for the Soo Locks Complex. The new lock will replace two smaller locks (the Sabin and Davis Locks) and will 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. In order to support new lock construction, an IPO will provide office space and amenities, such as conference space, storage areas, kitchen, restrooms, and a mudroom for new lock staff. It will also be close to the new lock project site and the USACE Soo Area Office to ensure that the new lock personnel will be able to maintain good working relationships and communication with contractors and the Soo Area Office as well be able to closely monitor construction activities and progress.

 

The USACE has considered several alternatives regarding the placement of the IPO: Alternative 1: Utilizing the third floor of the USACE, Soo Locks Administration Building, Alternative 2: Leasing of off-site space, and Alternative 3: Constructing a

temporary, modular structure on the USACE’s Soo Locks Complex property. These alternatives were considered in terms of the factors of space, utilities available, proximity, timeliness, minimal effects to historic preservation and visitor experience, and cost. Alternative 1 and Alternative 2 have been discarded as Alternative 1 would potentially take several years to design and construct while potentially costing several million dollars and Alternative 2 could take several years to find and complete a lease for an adequate space. Alternative 2 would only be considered viable if a temporary space could be procured while an adequate leasing option was explored. Alternative 3 involves the construction of a semi-permanent, one story, single modular structure on the historic Soo Locks property that is comprised of multiple pre-engineered structures linked

 

together to provide adequate space for new lock personnel, which would provide office space that is time- and cost-efficient. Locations that were considered for the placement of the temporary modular structure were described under Alternative 3 include: near the Comfort Station, near the Maintenance and Service Building, near the Visitor’s Center, and near the main entrance of Upper Canal Park. The USACE has tentatively selected to place a temporary modular structure near the main entrance of Canal Park to provide office space to the personnel overseeing the construction of the new lock. The construction of a temporary modular structure on the Soo Locks property would fulfill the immediate need for office space at a cost that is not prohibitive in a preferred location that will foster needed communication between the staff overseeing the new lock and the staff at the Soo Area Office. As noted above, an Alternative Analysis Document detailing the alternatives outlined here can be provided upon request or can be reviewed online at http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/ by clicking on the link to “Other Public Notice” in the bottom left corner.

The Soo Locks property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and is a National Historic Landmark, with the Canal Park listed as a contributing resource to the historic nature of the Locks. The USACE, in consultation with the SHPO, has determined that the proposed undertaking, while temporary, will have an “adverse effect” on the historic nature of the Soo Locks, as the placement of the temporary modular structure will impede a prominent viewshed and diminish the public space of Canal Park, a contributing resource to the historic nature of the Soo Locks.

The USACE has provided its determination to the SHPO pursuant to 36 C.F.R. Part 800, the regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (54 U.S.C. § 306108). The USACE and SHPO have reached a tentative agreement regarding mitigation of the undertaking’s “adverse effect” that will be recorded by the proposed MOA. The USACE will submit pre-final and final design plans to SHPO and NPS (National Park Service). The MOA will include stipulations of removal of the IPO (post new lock construction) and efforts for restoration of Upper Canal Park following the substantial completion of the new lock. Additionally, the MOA will include the development of a Historic Structures Report (HSR) for the Administration Building by the USACE in collaboration with SHPO and NPS.

In accordance with Section 800.6 of 36 C.F.R Part 800, the USACE is requesting any concerns or comments regarding the proposed project be submitted within thirty (30) days from the date of this notice. If no comments are received by the end of the thirty (30) day review period, it will be assumed that no comments are forthcoming. Please provide all comments by email to LRE-NHPA-Comments@usace.army.mil .

1/21/21 Update: We have assembled a Frequently Asked Questions document with responses, please access by clicking here.  

3/3/21 Update: ERDC Assessment of the impacts of underwater blasting on fishes near the New Soo Lock is available, please access by clicking here.