Soo Asset Recapitalization Project

Soo Locks
When settlement of the Northwest Territory in the late-1700s and early 1800s brought increased trade, it became necessary to unload large boats, haul cargoes in wagons and reload in other boats when traveling Northwest of Lakes Michigan and Huron. In 1852, Congress appropriated 750,000 acres of public land for construction of locks that would enable unencumbered waterborne commerce between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. Today, the world-famous Soo Locks form part of a 1.6-mile canal that has been owned, maintained and operated toll-free by the United States Army Corps of Engineers since 1881.

In 2009, Northwoods was contracted on the Soo Asset Recapitalization Project to upgrade a 125-pound steam piping system, including new heat exchanger packages for two existing historic buildings.

Northwoods also added a new condensate return system to the new steam system. The job took place in the MacArthur and Poe locks, two of the four parallel locking chambers that comprise the modern day U.S. Soo Locks Facility. To overcome the job’s remote location, in the upper peninsula of Michigan, Northwoods had equipment, pipe and steam specialties shipped from various locations and suppliers around the Chicagoland area. Northwoods employed cranes set on barges to set material, tools and machinery into galleries where the work was being performed. Working in the crossover tunnels under the locks was a piping challenge and a safety challenge. However, through Northwoods’ careful planning the job was completed on time with more than 18,250 man hours in labor being performed without a single accident report.

“Northwoods embraces the concepts of partnering between Owner, Engineer, General Contractor, and Subcontractor. Their input throughout the design phase of this project was critical to the timely and cost effective results that were achieved. Their experience and knowledge of complex mechanical systems was beneficial throughout the design and construction of the project. We look forward to working with Northwoods Inc. on future projects.”

Paul Keating, Patrick Albin Carlson Joint Venture, LLC