CATOOSA, OKLA. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with the Arkansas Oklahoma Port Operators Association, announced the resumption of 24-hour operations and the adoption of a more efficient maintenance procedure plan for the locks and dams along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), one that saves not only time but also money while helping to maintain the integrity of the system for those who ship cargo on the waterway.
As a result of the National Strategy for the Inland Marine Transportation System study, completed by the Corps in 2008, a plan to close five locks along the MKARNS for maintenance four hours each day was implemented in October 2012. The new plan to begin July 1st, 2013 calls for locks to be closed only as required to enable required maintenance projects to be initiated and completed on a timely basis. Ample notice of these closures will be given to all stakeholders along the system, helping them plan for the closure and minimize the overall impact of closures on the towing industry and their customers while increasing the amount of maintenance performed on the system.
“I applaud the decision by the Corps of Engineers to resume 24-hour operations on the MKARNS,” said Inhofe. “This waterway is incredibly important to the State of Oklahoma and the nation, and even minor disruptions in service can have extremely negative consequences. This decision recognizes the value of the waterway to interstate commerce and international trade, and I commend the Corps and all the stakeholders for their work toward making continuous service on the MKARNS once again a reality.”
"This is an example of the benefits to be derived by the partnership that has developed between the Corps and the Stakeholders throughout the MKARNS, and it will ensure that we increase the maintenance of the entire system and therefore its reliability" said Colonel Michael J. Teague, Commander, Tulsa District, USACE.
David Yarbrough, president of the Arkansas Oklahoma Port Operators Association, agreed.
"This is by far a better system, one that we can all agree to," said Yarbrough. "Maintenance dollars will go farther by allowing better concentration of resources to a given repair, and delays to the shipping industry will be reduced through elimination of the daily closures."
The Corps of Engineers, in its memo regarding the new plan, stated: "This strategy will develop over time and will take significant stakeholder involvement to be successful. Our mutual goal is to have a model system – one that is reliable and resilient – for future generations."
Gary Ridley, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation, applauded the joint agreement between the Corps and AOPOA.
"This agreement bodes well for the continued success of the MKARNS and the water-borne cargo transportation industry, a crucial element for not only the Oklahoma economy but for our entire region," said Ridley. "We also must recognize the key efforts and support of Sen. Inhofe who understands that without this navigation system, our economy would lose up to $2 million per day. With Sen. Inhofe's help, we have taken another step in the right direction for preserving this great economic resource for the present and the future."