Community Leaders Praise Inhofe Provisions on MKARNS in Infrastructure Bill

Community leaders from across Oklahoma praised Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.)’s work on America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act. Click here for a comment from the Senator and a summary of the provisions.

“Long range planning and funding of our nation’s transportation systems, including the interstate highways and inland waterways, helps lower freight costs and speed delivery to market,” said David Yarbrough, Port Director of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa.America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act helps Inland states like Oklahoma enhance its multimodal transportation corridors, moving goods from the coastal ports to the interior, growing jobs and enhancing the state economy. Critical waterway infrastructure, such as locks and dams, must be maintained and improved to continue moving over 98 percent of the nation’s imports and exports that touch ports and waterways, representing 1.4 billion tons of freight annually, with a value of $2 trillion.”

“Senator Inhofe should be commended for his tireless effort to reverse decades of declining investment, across all transportation networks,” said Scott Robinson, Port Director of the Port of Muskogee. “In order to spread too little funding too far, we have been fixing critically important infrastructure as close to failure as possible and, in some cases, after it fails and on an emergency basis. As everyone knows, this is not an acceptable strategy. It’s a prescription for failure. On the inland waterways, emergency response to such failures result in: unscheduled lock closures; increased cost to shippers and to taxpayers; foregone benefits to the nation and to the states, including loss of revenue to the U.S. treasury; and, lack of transportation network reliability which is a serious deterrent to growth of waterborne commerce and the efficient use of the nation’s transportation network, already under stress.”

“Oklahoma farmers and ranchers rely on market access to sell their commodities and purchase vital inputs, and Oklahoma’s McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System helps provide a world of markets for our farmers,” said Rodd Moesel, President of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. “Exports are critically important to all agriculture, and the McClellan-Kerr system opens doors across the world for our farm products. We appreciate Sen. Inhofe’s forward-looking support for marine highway corridors in the America’s Transportation and Infrastructure Act, which will play a vital role for rural Oklahoma for years to come.”

“Chairman Inhofe knows what it takes to bring the MKARNS into the 21st century, and with his provisions in ATIA, he’s getting us there,” said Gary Ridley, former Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation. “By opening up the national freight program to include waterways, like MKARNS, Sen. Inhofe is creating unprecedented opportunity for all of Oklahoma’s infrastructure.”

“Oklahoma oil and gas is vital to our state’s economy, but we need to access more markets to continue to grow,” Jon Bargas, Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, said. “ By looking out for the future of MKARNS, Sen. Inhofe is making it possible for our members to reach markets across the country and around the world. Sen. Inhofe’s commitment to infrastructure keeps our industry moving forward.”  

“The McLellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) is an economic powerhouse for Oklahoma, providing reliable shipping and transportation to a 12-state region. Each year, millions of tons of goods and products are shipped along the system,” said Fred Morgan, President and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma. “That’s why we are glad to see Sen. Jim Inhofe’s continued support for MKARNS by including provisions in legislation making the system eligible for more funding to help with improvements and deepening the channel. It’s forward-thinking ideas like this that will keep Oklahoma’s economy strong and prosperous. Deepening and improving MKARNS expands economic opportunity for Oklahoma and our entire region.”

“The Tulsa Port of Catoosa and Port of Muskogee are two of the most inland ports in America, and the Tulsa region has long benefited from the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS),” said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “Sen. Jim Inhofe’s provision in the Senate highway bill allows for additional funding to address about $153 million in backlogged maintenance – $139 million of which is deemed critical. The senator’s provision helps protect more than 22,700 jobs along the navigation system and more than $300 million in economic impact. The northeast Oklahoma business community greatly appreciates the senator’s commitment to this crucial infrastructure.”

“We’re very appreciative of Sen. Inhofe for the Oklahoma provisions in America’s Transportation and Infrastructure Act of 2019,” said Mark D. VanLandingham, Senior Vice President for Government Relations & Policy, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “The importance of ensuring we receive our fair share of federal highway funds and providing the state more flexibility to modernize the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which positively impacts economic development for the entire state, cannot be over-stated.”

“The economic development benefits provided by the McLellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System cannot be overestimated,” said Dave Rowland, President and CEO of the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance. “MKARNS is vital to manufacturers across Oklahoma, providing logistical access to supplies and materials that simply wouldn’t be available otherwise. The ability to ship finished products from inland ports is essential to efficient manufacturing operations. It’s crucial that adequate funds are available to maintain and improve the waterway. We support Sen. Inhofe’s effort to improve freight channels and know firsthand the critical role these corridors play in the continuing expansion of American manufacturing.”