Little Rock Port Awarded $3M to Expand Barge Capacity


Little Rock Port Awarded $3M to Expand Barge Capacity
A train car sits on a loading dock at the Little Rock Port Authority. (Abigail Fowler)

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded more than $3 million to the Little Rock Port as part of a nationwide effort to address supply chain issues.

The money will be used to restore and expand the port’s current barge fleeting capacity on the Arkansas River. The project will replace 15 unsafe deadman ground anchors that are near the end of their useful lives with steel monopile dolphins.

An additional 32 dolphins will be installed in other locations at the port, which is part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigational System.

The project is among 25 coastal seaports, Great Lakes ports and inland river ports in 19 states to receive funding through the Maritime Port Administration's Infrastructure Development Program. More than $241 million in total has been awarded to the projects.

The largest grant was awarded to one of the nation's busiest container ports, the Port of Long Beach. It received $52.3 million for the first phase of a project to enhance rail capacity. The project will add a 10,000-foot support track within a critical freight corridor, construct a new support facility for 24 locomotives, add three new yard tracks, and extend five existing tracks.

More: View the full list of grant recipients here

Bottlenecks at that port and the Port of Los Angeles have forced dozens of container ships at a time to anchor or drift offshore while waiting to unload their cargo. The backups led the ports to move to 24/7 operations. They also led the Biden administration to arrange for Walmart and other major U.S. retail and shipping companies to unload more cargo at night. 

“U.S. maritime ports play a critical role in our supply chains,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a news release. “These investments in our nation’s ports will help support American jobs, efficient and resilient operations, and faster delivery of goods to the American people.”

The bipartisan infrastructure law provides $450 million annually in funding for the port improvement program for fiscal years 2022 through 2026, or a total of $2.25 billion.