Claremore Daily Progress

Business

February 27, 2014

Another strong year at Port of Catoosa

(Continued)

CATOOSA —

“These capacity improvements have the potential to redirect truck transportation traffic, including inter-modal shipments, from a number of Gulf ports to inland water-born traffic routes through the Port of New Orleans and subsequently to the Port of Catoosa, further enhancing the Port’s existing status as an inland international logistics center,” Page said.
In spite of the positive news, the Port is facing some challenges.
“These challenges not only threaten our future growth, but also threaten our very existence,” Page said. “It’s an area where we don’t have complete control of our future.”
He noted the Port must find answers to four pressing issues:
•Deferred maintenance and deterioration of infrastructure along the 445-mile navigation system and ensuring that adequate Congressional appropriations are made for optimum operation of the waterway system.
•Congressional authorization for a joint emergency response program between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and non-federal interests, of which the Port would be one, whereby they can address failures in the system immediately and without a federal layer of bureaucracy.
•Deepening of the navigational channel from nine to 12 feet.
•Widening of Highway 266 from the Port entrance to Highway 169.
“We should all remain cognizant of the fact that the waterway has attracted over $5 billion of private investment along the navigation system in Oklahoma, and employs 8,000 people,” Page said. “At the Port of Catoosa, $100 million in public investment has been leveraged to attract over $1 billion in private investment. All of this investment and the benefits, livelihood and welfare it provides is at risk should the waterway system be allowed to fail. It is imperative that our federal and state governments work on protecting this resource.”
He said the Port’s success over the last two years is proof that the navigation system must be prepared for more growth and higher tonnage volumes in the future.
“It is imperative that we continue to solicit support from Congress and to demand that they take care of our nation’s infrastructure, including inland waterways,” Page said. “Everyone must be made aware of and recognize the regional benefits derived from the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System and the over 10,000 direct jobs it provides.”

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