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.
For the first time in five years, barge activity on the Arkansas River topped 5 million tons through the first five months of the year.
According to information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, year-to-date traffic on the Arkansas River (McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System) through May totaled 5,010,298 tons. Historical records are kept online by the Corps of Engineers dating back to 2011. Barge traffic has topped 5 million tons only one other time since then, in 2013 with a total of 5,030,424 tons. This year’s barge activity is up 9.2% from the same five-month period of 2017.
“The Port of Little Rock is experiencing record tonnage moving across our docks and we believe this trend will hold through early fall,” Little Rock Port Authority Executive Director Bryan Day said in a statement. “This increase in commodity tonnage represents confidence in the manufacturing sector and our local communities are benefiting from this job growth. I remain optimistic that the next few years will continue to show growth on the MKARNS.”
FREIGHT VOLUME STRONG
The most recent data from the Cass Freight Shipments and Expenditures Index indicates the freight economy is strong, both from a volume and a pricing perspective.
May shipments came in at 11.9% higher compared with the same month of 2017. Freight expenditures, the total amount spent on freight, rose a whopping 17.3% over the year-ago period of May 2017.
The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage increased 0.7% in May, the second consecutive month of increases after rising 2.7% in April.
Compared with May 2017, the index surged 7.8%, down from April’s 9.9% year-over-year increase. Year-to-date, compared with the same five months last year, tonnage increased 8%, far outpacing the annual gain of 3.8% in 2017.
RAIL TRAFFIC INCREASING
Total U.S. weekly traffic for the week ending June 23 was 557,340 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.7% compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the period were 268,464 carloads, up 2.5% compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 288,876 containers and trailers, up 4.9% compared with last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 25 weeks of 2018 was 13.33 million carloads and intermodal units, up 3.6% compared with last year.
ENPLANEMENTS TREND UPWARD
Enplanements at two of the state’s three largest commercial airports are trending higher this year, according to the latest data available.
Year-to-date enplanements — or outbound passengers — at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Highfill were up 5.39% through May this year, from 282,642 last year to 291,201 this year.
Enplanements at the state’s largest airport, Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, totaled 409,367 through the first five months this year. That’s up 1.59% from 399,988 in the same period last year.
Click here for a PDF of the June 2018 Arkansas Transportation Report.