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January Shipping Numbers Reveal Strong Start for 2020, Says Little Rock Port Authority

Michael Hibblen

The year is off to a good start for the Little Rock Port Authority, boasting strong numbers for January 2020. According to a news release, the port’s docks saw a total of 41 barges, which on average equaled to more than a barge each day. Bryan Day is the executive director of the Port of Little Rock. He says the numbers reflect a strong start to the year and should be a foundation for months to come.

"Short of an act of God or some sort of catastrophic event we believe that our industries are strong and profitable and we will see this kind of momentum move forward and continue with that," Day said. He says the port regularly communicates with industries and customers that use the port.

"Everything that they are sharing with us shows to be a strong and positive year in terms of commodity tonnage coming off of the river," Day said. Though rain has consistently been present in Little Rock these past few months, Day says the wet weather has not affected the port.

"That’s a non-issue for the Arkansas River. When it becomes an issue is when you have this unique event like we had last year where it rained heavy rains in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado where the watersheds of the river…came down, but the rains we’ve seen in early 2020 have had no impact on the port at all," Day said. 

The port closed operations for 59 days during the flooding last spring, making any loading or unloading impossible. Day says assessing the total damage the flooding caused on an economic basis will take time.

"It will take several years to see the full impact of the flood we had last year and how these industries have been able to recoup. And then you throw in the broken levees in Dardanelle and Fort Smith, the damage to private property and commercial property and municipal property," Day said,

However, Day says they are not expecting a similar event this year. 

"We work closely with colleagues up and down the river from Tulsa to Helena. We work closely with the [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers, local communities to kind of track that. At this point we do not foresee any problems this spring, which is when you have the snow melt in the mountains and the heavy rains," Day said,

According to the news release, February is predicted to bring slightly slower numbers at the docks.