Fort Smith, Fayetteville Mayors See Need for Deeper Arkansas River

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 12:00 am  

The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System opened to commercial traffic in 1970 and helps transport goods up the 420-foot rise in elevation between the Mississippi River and Catoosa, Okla. (Photo by Tre Baker)

Sanders doesn’t expect the project to be funded immediately but hopes to see it within the next three to five years.

Driver said the Corps of Engineers estimated that the work would take five years to finish — once funding is arranged.

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan doesn’t govern from the banks of the river, but he is a vocal advocate of the project. Jordan believes that what’s good for Fort Smith (and other cities on the banks of the river) is good for the region and the entire state and nation.

“It’s a domino effect,” Jordan said. “Here is what is beautiful about it. We have the third largest waterway in the nation and have all the cities that are hooked up to the Arkansas River. It will drive the costs of operating business way down and that can be passed on to the consumer.”

Sanders said the cost of deepening Arkansas’ portions of the river is just a small part of the overall cost. Unfortunately for Arkansas, while that is true, the Corps of Engineers does not operate on a piecemeal basis.

Driver said work on the McClellan-Kerr system is an all-or-none proposal. Congress itemizes funds for each project, so the river won’t get deepened until the money is available to deepen the whole thing from the Mississippi River to the Port of Catoosa.



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