Claremore Daily Progress

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February 22, 2013

RECORD CARGO LEVELS: Port overcoming drought



The potential increase will require growth at the Port, according to Page.
A five-acre truck staging area opened at the end of 2012 and the construction of a locomotive storage maintenance facility will help meet the demands, he added.
The Port is creating more employment opportunities and working to improve the health and will being of the 4,000 plus workforce.
Several new businesses were welcomed to the Port in 2012, also increasing the employment opportunities, Page added.
In spite of the positive growth, Page outlined a very serious issue facing the Port.
Deferred maintenance of the lock and dam system and a reduction in system operating hours is a crucial challenge, according to Page. 
“According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we currently have a backlog of critical maintenance projects that approaches $100 million,” Page said.
Critical maintenance, as defined by the Corps, means that these types of projects have a 50 percent chance of failure within the next five years.
If that happens, the resulting closure of the navigation system would cost the state of Oklahoma an estimated $2 million per day, according to Page.
“That is why he have asked the federal government for funds to complete the project, Congress has authorized to deepen the channel from Catoosa to the Mississippi River from nine to 12 feet,” Page said.
Additionally, the Port has requested assistance from the state to widen State Highway 266 from I-44 east of the Port and to U.S. 169 to facilitate the movement of oversize and overweight cargo.
“It is imperative that we continue to solicit support from Congress and to demand that they take care of our nation’s infrastructure, including the inland waterway system,” Page said.

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