Ports & Terminals

Despite Record Flooding, Little Rock 2019 Shipping Is Still Up From 2018

Unprecedented flooding on the Arkansas River didn’t stop the Little Rock (Ark.) Port Authority (LRPA) from increasing its barge-handling this spring over the same period a year ago. Despite the flooding, the port said in a June 20 announcement, cargo handling at the port remains “significantly ahead of last year,” with 247 barges worked through the first five months, versus 197 through the same period in 2018.

Barge traffic at the port came to a halt May 2 due to the historic level of flooding. The port had enough loaded barges on hand to keep its operator, Logistic Services Inc., busy until the river rose to a level that shut dock operations down, the port said. A total of 59 barges were worked during the month of May with more than 91,000 tons of various commodities handled.  Commodities handled during the month included aluminum tees and ingots, bauxite, DAP, lightweight aggregate, potash, rock and sand, steel coils, sulfate, urea and wetcake.

The slackwater dock worked 45 barges and 14 barges were worked at the river dock in May. Additionally, tonnage across the docks is up year-to-date, with 377,000 tons handled versus 2018 tonnage of 302,000.  Both vessel calls and tonnage were up 25 percent on a year-to-year basis.

Rail activity was affected by the flooding. Miscellaneous switching was lower than normal, with only 22 cars being switched from the storage tracks. Union Pacific had several subdivisions or lines in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas that were closed because of flooding and high water. The LRPA said it was most affected by service outages on the Van Buren Subdivision, which runs from Fort Smith to North Little Rock, Ark.

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Terminal activity saw over 40 railcars worked, and truck traffic remained strong.  The month of May ended with both docks idle due to high water and very limited activity on the terminal.

“The Port of Little Rock weathered the flood with minimal consequence” said Bryan Day, executive director of the LRPA. “We were much more fortunate than many of our colleagues along the river. Please continue to keep the many people affected by the recent flooding event in your thoughts and prayers. Together, we will work together to rebuild and reinvest in the river.”