Mullin, Shuster talk about Port’s role, financial needs
Salesha Wilken Staff Writer
Congressman Markwayne Mullin and Congressman Bill Shuster, Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, toured the Tulsa Port of Catoosa on Friday to show their support for the largest inland waterway in the country.
Mullin and Shuster met with business leaders and briefly spoke about the role of the port, as well as the need for financial support from the federal government.
Shuster referred to the port as “incredibly important” to America and the economy.
The port provides products to customers cheaper than other means of transportation, which means products are cheaper on shelves for consumers, according to Shuster.
“It is very important to see the port first hand and to see the port grow and prosper,” Shuster said.
The port is currently facing several challenges including a need to deepen the waterway and maintenance issues with the lock system, according to Mullin.
“If we deepen the system we can increase cargo by 30 percent,” Mullin said “It is so much cheaper to send products by water, but if we can’t get it from point A to point B, it doesn’t do any good.”
Keeping the locks open is a huge concern; if the locks go down it would cost the Oklahoma economy approximately $2 million a day, he added.
The issue of an aging inland waterway system is a problem all over the country, according to Shuster.
Many of the locks are 50 years old on average and some are 60 or even 90 years old; at some point they are going to go down, he added.
“There is $5 billion in commerce that is not going to be able to travel the waterways. It will have to go another mode — rail or truck — which will be more expensive,” Shuster said. “It is a national interest that we are paying close attention to; it means commerce, it means jobs.”
Mullin and Shuster are currently working to gain support for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
The act will address the issues facing the Port of Catoosa, as well as other national water concerns.
“We desperately need a WRDA bill to find a way to update our nation’s waterway so the Second District can continue to play an important role in the movement of goods throughout this country and the world, as well as to maintain and create good jobs here in northeast Oklahoma,” Mullin said.