Arkansas Transportation Report: Arkansas River traffic dips below 900,000 tons in April, lowest level since 2011

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 108 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.


Despite a dip in April caused by heavy rainfall, traffic through the first four months of 2017 on the Arkansas River (McClellan-Kerr Ar­kansas River Navigation System) totaled 4.087 million tons, up 3% compared to the January-April period of 2016.

River traffic in the month of April totaled just 840,871 tons, the first April total to dip below 900,000 tons since 2011 (825,318 tons).

Inbound tonnage on the Arkansas River in the January-April peri­od totaled 1.620 million tons, down 8% compared to the same four-month period in 2016. Outbound tonnage was 1.582 million tons, up 29%, and internal tonnage (tons shipped between ports on the river) totaled 884,932 tons, down 9%.

Rains that began to fall in March and through April in areas of Oklahoma feeding into the Arkansas River watershed resulted in in­creased river levels that began to slow and eventually halt shipping on the river.

Bryan Day, executive director of the Little Rock Port Authority, said river conditions have stopped traffic but have not yet halted port operations.

“The Arkansas River has had high flows for the past several weeks and barge traffic has stopped,” Day told Talk Business & Politics. “We hope the river will reopen next week. As of today (May 23), barge traffic has not returned to normal. Although some of our industry partners have been slightly inconvenienced, the slowdown in river traffic has not impacted any jobs or economic development efforts.”

Traffic slipped slightly during April at two of the state’s three largest commercial airports, but year-to-date numbers are still ahead of last year’s pace.

Enplanements — or outbound passengers — at Fort Smith Regional Airport, the state’s third-largest airport, totaled 27,013 in the January-April period, up 7.97% from the same four-month period in 2016. Enplanements in April, however, were down 1.6%, from 6,892 in 2016 to 6,777 this year.

Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) in Highfill, the second-largest airport in the state, totaled 201,637 in Janu­ary-April, up 5.87% from 190,450 in the year-ago period. April enplanements totaled 54,499, up 3% from 52,910 enplanements in April 2016.

Enplanements at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock are up 2.04% through the first four months of the year, from 296,619 in the January-April period last year to 302,656 this year. April enplanements were essentially flat at the airport, from 81,548 a year ago to 81,412 this year.

Link here for a PDF of the June 2017 Transportation Report.