Governor Rick Snyder has signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will commit up to $52 million of state money for upgrades to the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie.
Governor Snyder is among many in Michigan who have said upgrading the locks is a priority for the state. Snyder highlighted their importance in a statement Wednesday.
"The Soo Locks are essential to our economy and national security. The time is long overdue for construction to begin on the new lock. I’m pleased that the work is finally getting underway and hope that Congress quickly provides the rest of the funds needed to complete the project," Snyder said.
With this agreement signed, things are moving faster than state officials expected. Ari Adler, a spokesman for Governor Snyder, says that's good for taxpayers.
"The estimate we’ve received from the Corps of Engineers is that by accelerating the project by a year, we could be saving up to $30 million," Adler said.
Adler says it saves money by reducing construction costs and other expenditures that come from dragging a project out.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is putting up $32 million for the new lock. Adler says the Corps will use Michigan's contribution to begin design work.
Alder says the project still needs about $838 million from the federal government, since the total cost is estimated at $922 million. Congress has already approved the lock upgrade.