The Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie were officially opened Friday for the 2016 shipping season by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The locks, which help form the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway navigation system, had been closed since January.
During its closure, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were completing winter maintenance and rehabilitation projects to ensure the safety of vessels and crews that will use the locks in the next nine months.
The Soo Locks is a gateway for commerce, allowing the transport of raw materials from Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes. Officials say 4,000 commercial vessels travel through the locks each year carry iron, ore, low-sulfur coal, grain, limestone and break-bulk cargoes.
“The opening of the Soo Locks is, for us, the opening day of baseball,” Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director, said in a news release. “It’s the excitement of a new season — the anticipation of seeing ships underway and commerce flowing in and out of the Duluth-Superior Harbor beneath the iconic Lift Bridge.”