The head of a company that operates huge freighters between Duluth-Superior and other Great Lakes ports says they’re in “very preliminary discussions” with state lawmakers about Minnesota helping fund a major upgrade of the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan — a key connection point. Interlake Steamship Company President Mark Barker warns if the larger lock built in the 1960s went down for six months, there would be a recession. Barker says, “If you do not have the Soo Locks, the Minnesota Iron Range becomes landlocked. If that lock failed and you wanted to truck all the iron ore to Indiana, you’d sit on the side of the highway and have a truck pass you every 30 seconds.”
Barker says the one-billion-dollar upgrade has 75 million in federal funding plus a 52-million-dollar commitment from the State of Michigan. Barker, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director Deb DeLuca and other officials met Tuesday at the State Capitol with Governor Tim Walz, lawmakers and others.