Historic Soo Locks Progress Highlights 2018 Accomplishments
By Congressman John Moolenaar
In 2018, we made more progress on the Soo Locks than has been made in decades. From the end of April through the end of December, new developments have brought a new lock closer to fruition. In April, I joined Michigan Congressmen Jack Bergman and Paul Mitchell for a conversation with President Donald Trump about the Soo Locks.
We told the president that the main lock for freighters is 50 years old and being held together through incredible maintenance. We also told him about the vital need to build a second lock to ensure that freighters could continue to go through the locks if the first lock ever failed. This is a priority for the national economy and our national security because the iron ore that travels through the lock is vital for manufacturing and jobs across the country.
The president announced his support for building the lock shortly after that and the subsequent months have brought quick progress.
In June, the Army Corps of Engineers released a new report saying that the economic benefits of a new Soo Lock would generate two dollars for every dollar spent.
In September, legislation from my committee, funded the Army Corps budget for 2019 and it was signed into law by the president.
In October, President Trump signed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, authorizing funding for the Soo Locks to be built in the years ahead.
Shortly after that, I led a bipartisan letter of 28 representatives from Great Lakes states urging the Army Corps to start the multi-year building process as soon as possible and include funding for building a new lock in 2019.
In November, the Army Corps agreed and released its work plan with $32 million as an initial outlay for the design and construction of a new, second freighter-sized lock at the Soo Locks.
Construction and design is moving ahead on the Locks for the first time in decades.
The past year also brought outstanding economic news for our country.
The unemployment rate is under four percent, and the hourly wages made by workers have increased by more than three percent after years of staying the same.
Here in mid and northern Michigan, businesses are hiring more workers and expanding their operations.
Bandit Industries in Remus is adding a new facility. Crest Marine in Shiawassee County is expanding as it sees increased demand for boats. Even in dairy, which is an industry hurting from low milk prices, there is a new facility coming to St. Johns.
This year, taxpayers will also see benefits from tax reform as they pay lower rates, with a doubled standard deduction and a $2,000 per-child tax credit.
Finally, to bring this year in review to a close, I want to thank all of you. This year, my office responded to more than 50,000 emails, letters, and phone calls from constituents. We helped hundreds of residents receive help with Social Security, the IRS, the VA, and Medicare. It was an honor to present military service decorations to veterans in our communities who never received the recognition they earned while serving our nation. I hope that if you are having an issue with a federal department or agency, you will contact my office in Midland at 989-631-2552.
It is an honor to serve as your congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives and I look forward to continuing to work for you. Thank you.
Congressman John Moolenaar, R-Midland, represents Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District which is made up of Clare, Clinton, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon, Shiawassee, and Wexford counties, and parts of Montcalm and Saginaw counties.