U.S. Senators John Boozman, R-Ark., and Tom Cotton R-Ark., along with U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, and Bruce Westerman R-Hot Springs, announced Tuesday (July 23) the Southeast Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana Multimodal Freight Corridor project has been awarded $10.5 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
The funds were awarded to the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District on a competitive basis from DOT’s Improvement Project Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program.
The funds will be used to modernize and improve rail safety infrastructure along the freight corridor that runs from McGehee to Tallulah while also improving the regional connectivity of three inland waterway ports. This grant will provide the necessary funds to improve the connectivity and efficiency of their rail systems and inland waterways.
“This is exciting news for the region. The economic benefits of increased rail and river traffic are vital to the long-term growth in Southeast Arkansas. The Southeast Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana Multimodal Freight Corridor is the type of project that could serve as a national model for how smart infrastructure investments can spur results and drive lasting benefits for economies in rural America,” Boozman said.
“Arkansas’ economy depends on safe, reliable infrastructure to move products to market. Updating the Southeast Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana Multimodal Freight Corridor will provide the region with the improved rail-safety and port-connectivity necessary to sustain long-term economic growth. I’m grateful to Secretary Chao and the U.S. Department of Transportation for their commitment to improving infrastructure in Arkansas,” Cotton said.
“This grant will move more commodities, bring Southeast Arkansas into the global marketplace, and ignite the Delta’s economy. This is all welcome news for Arkansas’s first district and I look forward to years of economic development,” Crawford said.
“As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’m thrilled to see so many resources allocated to improving rail and waterway infrastructure. In a rural state, modern, safe and efficient railways and ports are crucial parts of driving economic growth. The devastating flooding we experienced this year showed how essential it is to upgrade Arkansas’s infrastructure, and this grant is a huge step in the right direction,” Westerman said.