New ice breaker to be built for Great Lakes

The ice breaker will be built at a cost of $350 million to help the state's $1.4 billion maritime economy
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 4:57 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) visited the Port of Green Bay at Ace Marine on Thursday, where she and other leaders highlighted a new ice breaker for the Great Lakes. They hope the ice breaker will boost commerce statewide.

The Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act authored by Sen. Baldwin and signed into law late last year authorized the ice breaker for $350 million.

Baldwin said the legislation came out of concern for the lack of use of the Great Lakes for moving cargo. She pushed for the ice breaker to move cargo more efficiently on the Great Lakes and to tackle flooding issues.

Baldwin called the Great Lakes “critical for our Made in Wisconsin economy.”

“Our state is known for the world-class goods that they produce, but for Wisconsin to remain an economic engine in the Midwest it’s vital to keep our maritime shipping lanes as close to year-round as possible,” she said.

Wisconsin’s maritime industry supports nearly 7,500 jobs and generates $1.4 billion in economic activity.

The Lake Carriers Association says there were 20 ice breakers in operation in 1997. Today there are only 11.

The U.S. Coast Guard says it will take 11 years to build and deploy the new ice breaker, but the Lake Carriers Association believes it may be done sooner.

Officials also announced a $10 million Department of Transportation grant to convert the decommissioned WPS Pulliam power plant into a new port facility.

According to Baldwin, the Pulliam port project will include brownfield cleanup, constructing 1,2743 feet of new dock wall, and rail lines. The goal is to have it operational within 3 years. Baldwin said the facility is expected to create 20 new jobs and have an economic impact of $87 million in its first 5 years.