Arkansas Transportation Report: River barge traffic up less than 1% through August

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 197 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.

According to information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers, year-to-date (YTD) traffic on the Arkansas River (McClel­lan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System) through August to­taled 7,645,241 tons, up less than 1% compared with barge activity in the first eight months of 2017.

The YTD activity is also slowing from earlier in the year. Activ­ity through the first five months of the year was up almost 10% compared to 2017, according to records kept online by the Corps of Engineers

“We know that the river system as a whole has lost tonnage due to a reduced volume of imported fertilizer that’s been displaced by domestically manufactured fertilizer moving via truck and rail,” said Bryan Day, executive director of the Little Rock Port Author­ity. “As for the Port of Little Rock, barge activity has remained strong and at near record levels. Our customers continue to fore­cast strong tonnage for the balance of the calendar year and we are still expecting to end this year with record tonnage.”

In August, Arkansas River traffic activity was at its lowest level of 2018 with 811,840 tons. It was the second consecutive month river traffic dipped below 900,000 tons. Compared with August 2017, the barge activity was down 19%.

The most recent data from the Cass Freight Shipments and Ex­penditures Index indicates the freight economy is “extraordinarily” strong, both from a volume and a pricing perspective.

August shipments came in at 6% higher compared with the same month of 2017. Freight expenditures, the total amount spent on freight, continued to climb sharply from 2017. The August price volume was ahead 16.7% of last year’s amount in the same month.

Despite a monthly decline in August, truck freight remained solid according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). The ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage dropped 1.8% in August. That followed a 1.9% increase in July.

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 7.69% through August this year.

Enplanements at the state’s largest airport, Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, totaled 703,973 through the first eight months this year.

Click here for a PDF of the September 2018 Arkansas Transportation Report