An inland port and intermodal project on the Arkansas River at the Port of Van Buren has been met with some positive reactions.

John Vickerman of Virginia-based Vickerman & Associates updated the Western Arkansas Intermodal Authority board on the status of the project during a meeting in Greenwood on Tuesday. In 2017, five entities —Fort Smith, Van Buren, Crawford County, Sebastian County and the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority — agreed to contribute $40,000 each to allow WAIA to hire Vickerman & Associates.

The firm was hired to prepare requests for expression of interest and solicitation for the project. The contract includes data collection, trade date procurement, a targeted market assessment and a conceptual terminal development plan. In a presentation Aug. 23, Vickerman said as far as the firm was concerned, it wanted to gather and attract entities that are involved in intermodal terminal design, operation and finance.

During Tuesday's meeting, Vickerman informed the board members via telephone that all things are proceeding satisfactorily. The firm is planning a presentation to the board for March 5 that will include an overview of the market assessment, the conceptual development plan and the expression of interest document. These documents will be submitted to the board in advance.

Vickerman said the firm has two or three major elements that are interested in continuing the pursuit of the project, and may be able to go directly to them. The firm could deliver the names of the organizations to the board during Vickerman's March presentation.

"So the industry is carefully looking at what we're doing, has responded appropriately," Vickerman said.

The Western Arkansas Intermodal Authority board will have its next meeting March 5.