Skubick: Former Michigan Speaker picked to head Soo Lock expansion job


LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – It appears that President Donald Trump is very serious about re-building the Soo Locks in the Upper Peninsula.

The president has appointed former Republican Speaker of the House Rick Johnson to a yet-to-be-created authority to oversee the project.  

For decades the Congress has talked about re-building the Soo Locks to accommodate larger sea going vessels.  

The locks are viewed as a vital link in the nation’s defense system since so much iron ore passes through Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

President Donald Trump has endorsed construction of new locks but some of his critics wonder if he will renege.

In the past, the president has supported money to protect the Great Lakes but then he has withdrawn that support.

Former Republican Speaker Rick Johnson was the first Republican in the state to endorse candidate Trump and now he’s been tapped by the president as the White House representative on the yet-to-be-named authority to oversee the project.

On the issue of reneging, Johnson claims, “I don’t think so based on comments to other people who have been with him. This guy (the president) doesn’t do things for political reason;  he does thing for the right reason.”

The question is how much will this cost Michigan taxpayers?

Former Governor Rick Snyder and lawmakers earmarked $52 million for the state’s share.

But Mr. Johnson reports, currently the ships that use the locks, don’t pay a dime and he’s on a mission to change that.

“I sure don’t support not charging anything,” insists Johnson.  “That’s not how we’re going to get things done.” 

He’s looking for the authority to be announced soon with the project taking perhaps eight years to finish.

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