Commerce Moves on Four Arkansas Rivers

by Luke Jones  on Monday, May. 14, 2012 12:00 am  

"Farmers need fertilizer; drillers need sand and so on," he said. The increase in gasoline prices, though inconvenient, hasn't hurt the industry near Little Rock, Latture said.

"In general, truck and rail traffic, as well as barge traffic, is up out there," Garrison said. "Employment is good. It's really an anomaly out there, compared to the rest of the nation."
The last major Arkansas River ports are out west, at Van Buren and Fort Smith. The Port of Van Buren is owned by Five Rivers Distribution, which also operates the Port of Fort Smith. Marty Shell is president of that organization.

"Tonnage was strong for the first quarter of 2012," Shell said. "We hope there's a light at the end of the tunnel as manufacturing seems to be perking up. We are hampered by high fuel prices, causing customers to divert to other modes of transportation."

Most of the cargo in that area, Shell said, is bulk steel, grains and coal.

"We're optimistic," he said. "We're looking toward the future. Tonnage has grown, and the terminal is getting busier and busier with people realizing waterborne is the cheapest mode moving to and from the gulf."



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