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July 01, 2021

Inhofe Fights for Oklahoma; Ensures Congress Prioritizes Oklahoma Projects

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today released his requests for Congress to prioritize key Oklahoma projects. Inhofe has worked hard to ensure projects essential for Oklahomans are being put at the top of the list of priorities in Congress. This includes expediting design work on the first phase of the Tulsa and West Tulsa Levee System modernization project, expediting work on the first phase of the MKARNS 12 ft. channel deepening project and accelerating critical maintenance work on locks and dams along the MKARNS.

“Infrastructure investments and authorizing funding for our military are the two most important things we do here in Congress. Oklahoma is not only working hard to recover from the past year, but we are quickly getting back to growing and thriving as a state. I am proud of the people of our state for their dedication to community and moving forward—all of these community projects show this dedication.  I will continue to fight to ensure Oklahoma projects that are transparent and accountable, like these, are given priority in Congress.”

Project Name: Tulsa and West Tulsa Levee System

Cost: $13,789,200

Recipient: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 

Location: City of Tulsa and Tulsa County

State: Oklahoma

Certification: Link here

Support: “As we saw during historic flooding a couple of years ago, Tulsa must have dependable levees for residents’ protection and safety,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “I want to thank Senator Inhofe for his leadership in pursuing funding for improvements to Tulsa’s levee system.”

"I am so grateful to Senator Inhofe's work to secure funding supporting the Tulsa West-Tulsa Levee project," Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said. "Without his efforts throughout the years, we would not be optimistic about the future of the levees. If approved, this congressional directed spending would go a long way in modernizing the levees."

“We have worked closely throughout the years with Sen. Inhofe to make the Tulsa and West-Tulsa Levee project a reality,” District 12 Levee Commissioner Todd Kilpatrick said. “We are incredibly grateful to have such a force working on our behalf to ensure the levees are safe and reliable for the people of Tulsa and the surrounding communities—this funding will only help in these efforts.”

This project would continue and expedite design work on the first phase of the Tulsa and West Tulsa Levee System (TWTLS) project. 

In 2019, Oklahoma suffered a devastating flood event that made clear how important it is to modernize the TWTLS. Floodwaters along the levee system remained high for 11 days, putting incredible strain on the aging levee system. Any catastrophic failure would have resulted in the inundation of the homes and businesses of thousands of Oklahomans. In April 2020, Corps completed a feasibility study related to the modernization and upgrade of the TWTLS and Congress authorized the project in WRDA 2020. This project will protect large elderly and low-income vulnerable populations and two refineries critical to the Tulsa economy from future flooding disasters.

Project Name: Arkansas River Navigation Study

Cost: $5,000,000

Recipient: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 

Location: 445 miles of the Arkansas River from the Mississippi River to the Tulsa Ports of Catoosa (15 miles east of Tulsa, Oklahoma)

State: Oklahoma and Arkansas

Certification: Link here

This project would continue and expedite design work on the first phase of the MKARNS 12 ft. channel deepening project. 

The MKARNS serves a 12-state region originating at the Port of Catoosa in northeast Oklahoma and running southeast through Oklahoma and Arkansas before meeting the Mississippi River. The Tulsa Ports of Catoosa and Inola are the most westerly inland river ports that are ice-free year round providing a continuous ability for farmers and manufacturers to ship their freight in the most cost effective way. The MKARNS moves 11 million tons of commerce worth $4 billion annually. The MKARNS is a vital corridor for agriculture commerce (soybeans and wheat) and aggregate commodities (sand, gravel, and rock) from the Gulf Coast to the Mid-West. The MKARNS, on an annual basis, provides for $8.5 billion in sales impacts, $1.6 billion in transportation cost savings, and $289 million in business taxes. In 2015, the Corps upgraded the classification of the MKARNS from “Connector” to “Corridor” on the National Marine Highway, designated the MKARNS as a high-use waterway system, and labeled the MKARNS as Marine Highway 40. While approximately 90 percent of the MKARNS is already 12 ft. deep, completing this deepening would increase the capacity of each barge by over 40 percent and resulting in over $250 million in increased business sales annually. 

Project Name: Operations and Maintenance of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS)

Cost: $43,000,000

Recipient: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 

Location: Arkansas River between Broken Arrow and Fort Coffee

State: Oklahoma

Certification: Link here

This project would continue and accelerate critical maintenance work on locks and dams along the MKARNS.

The MKARNS serves a 12-state region originating at the Port of Catoosa in northeast Oklahoma and running southeast through Oklahoma and Arkansas before meeting the Mississippi River. The MKARNS moves 11 million tons of commerce worth $4 billion annually. MKARNS is a vital corridor for agriculture commerce (soybeans and wheat) and aggregate commodities (sand, gravel, and rock) from the Gulf Coast to the Mid-West. The MKARNS, on an annual basis, provides for $8.5 billion in sales impacts, $1.6 billion in transportation cost savings, and $289 million in business taxes. In 2015, the Corps upgraded the classification of the MKARNS from “Connector” to “Corridor” on the National Marine Highway, designated the MKARNS as a high-use waterway system, and labeled the MKARNS as Marine Highway 40. This request would provide $43 million above the FY2022 President’s Budget Request for the MKARNS, Oklahoma project in the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) account, and includes seven work packages for critical backlog maintenance work within the Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Rehabilitate and Paint Tainter Gates at Robert S. Kerr L&D for $9 million; Rehabilitate and Paint Tainter Gates at Webbers Falls L&D for $9 million; Rehabilitate Tainter Valves at Newt Graham L&D for $2.5 million; Rehabilitate and Paint Tainter Gates at Newt Graham L&D for $7 million; Rehabilitate Tainter Valves at WD Mayo L&D for $2.5 million; Rehabilitate and Paint Tainter Gates at WD Mayo L&D for $9 million; and Repair Exposed Structural Rebar on Spillway Bridge at Robert S. Kerr L&D for $4 million.

Project Name: Construction of the Arkansas River Navigation Study

Cost: $10,000,000

Recipient: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 

Location: 445 miles of the Arkansas River from the Mississippi River to the Tulsa Ports of Catoosa (15 miles east of Tulsa, Oklahoma) 

State: Oklahoma and Arkansas

Certification: Link here

This project would complete design work and initiate construction on the first phase of the MKARNS 12 ft. channel deepening project.

The MKARNS serves a 12-state region originating at the Port of Catoosa in northeast Oklahoma and running southeast through Oklahoma and Arkansas before meeting the Mississippi River. The Tulsa Ports of Catoosa and Inola are the most westerly inland river ports that are ice-free year round providing a continuous ability for farmers and manufacturers to ship their freight in the most cost effective way. The MKARNS moves 11 million tons of commerce worth $4 billion annually. The MKARNS is a vital corridor for agriculture commerce (soybeans and wheat) and aggregate commodities (sand, gravel, and rock) from the Gulf Coast to the Mid-West. The MKARNS, on an annual basis, provides for $8.5 million in sales impacts, $1.6 billion in transportation cost savings, and $289 million in business taxes. In 2015, the Corps upgraded the classification of the MKARNS from “Connector” to “Corridor” on the National Marine Highway, designated the MKARNS as a high-use waterway system, and labeled the MKARNS as Marine Highway 40. While approximately 90 percent of the MKARNS is already 12 ft. deep, completing this deepening would increase the capacity of each barge by over 40 percent and resulting in over $250 million in increased business sales annually.

Praise for Sen. Inhofe’s work on the MKARNS:

“Senator Inhofe has always been a staunch advocate for the McClellan Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS),” Port Director of the Port of Muskogee Kimbra Scott said. “His tireless efforts to secure funding for the much needed backlog of critical maintenance and design and construction funding for the 12’ deepening of the MKARNS demonstrates his commitment to river-based industries. Thank you Senator Inhofe for your leadership and commitment to the State of Oklahoma.”

“The Tulsa Port of Catoosa is one of the nation’s premier inland river port industrial parks and transportation facilities and typically moves about 2 million tons of waterborne freight annually in and out of Oklahoma,” Port Director of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa David Yarbrough said. “The reliability and efficiency of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) is essential to our business, and the State’s and nation’s economy.  We are grateful to Senator Jim Inhofe for his support of, and advocacy for the needs of the system, including ongoing maintenance of system infrastructure, such as locks and dams, and advancing the design and funding for a deeper navigation channel, which would increase barge-carrying-capacity by as much as 40 percent.  Senator Inhofe’s efforts to enhance the MKARNS will make the most fuel-efficient, form of freight transportation even more resilient.”

W.C. Austin Project – “Lugert-Altus Irrigation District Modernization”

Cost: $5,000,000

Recipient: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Location: The W.C. Austin Project (Project) features include Altus Dam; the Main, Altus, West, and Ozark Canals; a 218-mile lateral distribution system; and 26 miles of drains. 

State: Oklahoma

Certification: Link here

Support: “Sen. Inhofe has always been a leader focused on improving Oklahoma’s water infrastructure, and I am grateful to see him continue these efforts with this funding request,” said General Manager of the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District Tom Buchanan. “This congressionally directed funding would help upgrade the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District’s annual irrigation efforts, bringing tremendous economic growth to the region as we continue to serve the needs of our community.”

This project would allow for district irrigation modernization to address Lugert-Altus Irrigation District water supply shortages, through improving water infrastructure and management, in support of the environment and agricultural industry.

The primary storage unit is Lake Altus, a reservoir formed by a dam across the North Fork of the Red River about 18 miles north of Altus, and by several earth dikes at low places in the reservoir rim. The Main Canal transports water from Lake Altus to the northern boundary of the project's irrigable land. The project was authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1938. The Lugert-Altus Irrigation District, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation manage the project.

As the project manager, the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District delivers water to 48,000 acres of cotton crops. The irrigated cotton producers within the district yield approximately 1250-1800 pounds of cotton per acre, creating a significant economic impact within the region. Early construction of the district was completed in the late 1940s and much of that outdated infrastructure remains today. A key priority for the cotton producers within the Irrigation District is more efficient water delivery and use. The Irrigation District has identified approximately 17 miles of the irrigation system within the Ozark Canals that needs to be converted to pipe. While the President’s FY22 budget requests $942,000 for the project’s operations, maintenance and development, that funding does not provide the necessary resources to carry out this modernization request. $5 million would help fund the construction of a water pipeline within the Ozark canal section of the irrigation district. The conversion from open canal to pipe would result in significant water conservation and delivery efficiency, allowing for the implementation of better water conservation practices as well as an increase in cotton production for the region. The 2005 estimate of the total delivery system efficiency was about 65 percent. This means that of the 63,000 acre-feet released from storage by the District in an average year, only about 41,000 acre-feet are delivered to customers. 

New project requests can be viewed as they are published on Sen. Inhofe’s website here. Each subcommittee has unique deadlines, so the page will be updated accordingly for the next few weeks. 

 


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