Arkansas Transportation Report: River traffic up, national freight picture ‘uneven’

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 42 views 

Editor’s note: The Arkansas Transportation Report is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by the Arkansas Trucking Association and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. Other transportation industry related stories can be found on the Arkansas Transportation Report landing page.
Arkansas’ river traffic is returning to normal, enplanements at the state’s three largest airports is mixed, and national freight trends are proving “uneven,” if not “flattish.”

Traffic on the Arkansas River for the first seven months of 2016 totaled 6.754 million tons, up 32% compared to a 2015 period that saw several months of stalled traffic because of flooding. July saw 841,511 tons shipped on the river, up 23.8% compared to July 2015, according to the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Thanks to unusual amounts of rainfall in 2015, tonnage on the Arkansas River was down 15% compared to 2014, and fell below 10 million tons for the first time in at least four years.

On the freight front, July shipments were down 2.6%, and freight expenditures down 5.1% compared to the same period in 2015, according to the Cass Freight Index. The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 2.1% in July, following a revised 1.6% decline in June. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2015, tonnage was up 3.2%.

Rosalyn Wilson, a supply chain expert and senior business analyst with Pasadena, Calif.-based Parsons, who provides economic analysis for the Cass Freight Index, said volatility in the supply chain and continued moves in the retail sector to manage inventories has reduced freight demand.

arktransreportsponsorsATA Chief Economist Bob Costello also said “inventory correction” issues create uneven demand in the trucking industry.

“On a monthly basis, tonnage has decreased in four of the last five months and stood at the lowest level since October during July,” Costello said in his report. “This prolonged softness is consistent with a supply chain that is clearing out elevated inventories. Looking ahead, expect a softer and uneven truck freight environment until the inventory correction is complete. With moderate economic growth expected, truck freight will improve the further along the inventory cycle we progress.”

Following are other key points of the August 2016 Arkansas Transportation Report.
• For the first 33 weeks of 2016, total combined U.S. traffic for the first 33 weeks of 2016 was 16,633,599 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 7.3% compared to last year.

• January-July enplanements at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock totaled 579,137, up 1.42% compared to the same period in 2015. July enplanements were 92,447, down 4.03% compared to July 2015.

• Enplanements at the second largest airport, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA), totaled 380,143 in the first seven months of the year, up just 0.75% compared to the same period in 2015.

• Fort Smith Regional Airport enplanements were 49,801 for the first seven months of 2016, down 4.97% compared to the same period in 2015.

Link here for the PDF of the August 2016 Arkansas Transportation Report.