Soo Locks – Design and Cost Savings, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

This contract involved need and feasibility justification for the Concept Design of a new Poe-Size Replacement Lock at the Soo Locks. The Soo Locks are located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The pre-concept design took into account recent innovative design and construction concepts in navigation lock technology. DLZ particularly focused on effecting significant cost savings utilizing innovative design concepts.

Significant cost savings were achieved by changing the lock filling and emptying system from culverts in the lock walls to culverts through the gate sills and in the lock chamber floor. This results in shorter lock walls and permits maximum re-use of existing lock walls. It also facilitates the use of more economical materials for new walls. Additional savings resulted from reduced cofferdam requirements and the elimination of fender booms outside the lock gates. Innovative solution for the design/construction of approach walls also contributed to cost savings.

The report aimed to reaffirm the recommended plan in the 1985 Interim Feasibility Report. It presented the results of the reevaluation with emphasis on updated project construction costs. DLZ reviewed numerous prior studies and reports, which included documentation on existing conditions, traffic considerations, environmental conditions, and engineering. DLZ also reviewed the innovation design approaches used by other Districts within the Corps of Engineers.

Sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, DLZ received the Hammer Award for its cost-effective design recommendations. The former Vice President of the United States presented the award in appreciation of “building a government that works better and costs less.”


Water Resources


Federal Government


Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan