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Inhofe Wants Congress To Spend $58M On Work Along Arkansas River Navigation System

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe has requested $58 million in congressional earmarks for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which runs from the Tulsa Port of Catoosa to the Mississippi River.

Of that, $15 million would go toward deepening the channel from 9 feet to 12. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division Commander Brigadier General Christopher Beck said at a port 50th anniversary event in June that would let barges carrying more cargo on the waterway’s entire 445 miles.

"This would provide the opportunity to increase capacity from approximately 1,500 short tons per barge today to allow industry to add nearly 200 tons per barge per each additional foot of draft," Beck said.

Inhofe's office estimates deepening the channel would allow barge capacity to increase 40%, leading to $250 million more in annual business sales.

The other $43 million Inhofe has requested would go toward a critical maintenance backlog on the navigation system.

INCOG Executive Director Rich Brierre said the funding would be huge for the navigation system and the port.

"It’s tremendously important for agriculture, in terms of shipping fertilizer, wheat, soybeans. It’s important for aggregate, in terms of rock and sand that’s being shipped from the port. It’s important for manufacturing. It’s the way steel is transported to our area and the way manufactured goods are transported from here … and often abroad," Brierre said.

Inhofe has also requested almost $14 million for west Tulsa levee work. 

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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