WASHINGTON — The Arkansas and Oklahoma delegations are supporting a proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers to investigate a potential threat to barge traffic along a stretch of the Arkansas River.
In a letter sent Tuesday to the chief of civil works for the U.S. Army, the lawmakers expressed their support for the proposed $100,000 "reconnaissance study" of ongoing threats to navigation and bottomland hardwoods at the confluence of the Arkansas, Mississippi and White Rivers in southeastern Arkansas.
The delegations said that the McKlellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is being threatened with a breach between miles 3 and 8 on the White River. If a breach occurs, they said, navigation could be impacted for more than 100 days at a cost in excess of $300 million.
The McKlellan-Kerr is responsible for between $1.5 billion and $3 billion in trade transportation each year for Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
"We believe a reconnaissance study should investigate and address the serious hydrologic and hydraulic problems that threaten navigation, the aquatic ecosystem habitat, flood damage reduction, and protection of the watershed to help ensure the continued viability of the MKARNS," they wrote.
The watershed is also home to 100,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods, the largest stand on any tributary to the Mississippi River.
The letter, sent to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo Ellen Darcy was signed by: Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., as well as Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., Tom Cole, R-Okla., James Lankford, R-Okla., and Frank Lucas, R-Okla.