The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District recently facilitated a navigation study, which was fully funded by the State of Arkansas through the Arkansas Red River Commission, to investigate the potential benefits of extending navigation on the Red River from Shreveport-Bossier City into southwest Arkansas.
The purpose of the navigation study was to better inform USACE as to whether pursuing a more in-depth feasibility study for the extension would be in the federal government’s best interest.
A feasibility study would provide enough information to determine whether or not the project should ultimately be advanced for construction. A 2005 feasibility study on the extension of navigation on the Red River identified a benefit-to-cost ratio that was unfavorable to pursuing construction.
Through contract with USACE, Gulf Engineers & Consultants (GEC) conducted the navigation study by analyzing the extent of bulk commodity shipments by way of railroad freight traffic in the Red River valley and the potential for these shipments to be diverted to barge traffic through the extension of navigation on the Red River beyond Shreveport, Louisiana.
In addition to collecting railroad freight data from the Department of Transportation, GEC’s analysis incorporated research from local industry groups and chambers of commerce. The study found that approximately 10 businesses and 25 unique shipment traffic flows would possibly benefit from the extension of navigation on the Red River. GEC found that farming and nonmetallic minerals industries would also benefit from the extension.
The study considered the costs associated with constructing, operating and maintaining three locks & dams; one in Louisiana and two in Arkansas. There would be benefits associated with potential terminals at Garland and Fulton, Arkansas.
GEC found that the extension of navigation on the waterway could potentially save approximately $75 million annually in shipping costs. The study indicated that the benefit-to-cost ratio for the construction of the locks and the extension of the waterway was favorable, above unity.
Based on these findings, USACE intends to request the resumption of a feasibility study.