Ports & Terminals

Helena Harbor Awarded $6,412,652 PIDP Grant

Officials with the Helena-West Helena/Phillips County Port Authority, known as Helena Harbor, announced October 28 that the inland river port in Phillips County, Ark., has been awarded $6,412,652 in grant funding to support additional rail features and a new water tower. Helena Harbor is a 4,000-acre industrial park and slackwater harbor located on the Mississippi River approximately one hour south of Memphis, Tenn. The grant was one among $703 million in grants announced by the Maritime Administration as part of its Port Infrastructure Development Program.

John Charles Edwards, general counsel and economic development director for Helena Harbor, said, “This is now the largest single infrastructure investment in the history of Helena Harbor and the second major grant award this month.”

On October 6, the port received a $2,872,414 America’s Marine Highway grant to support development of a container-on-barge terminal.

The rail portion of the funding will build a new rail spur to support the new Helm Fertilizer Terminal expansion. 

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The water tower will improve water pressure, provide water for fire prevention and will be the first seismic-resistant elevated water tower in Phillips County. 

A grant was made by the Arkansas Waterways Commission earlier this year to help with the funding of a new staging lane project for tractor-trailer rigs that will deliver fertilizer that is offloaded from barges.

“Developing cost-effective and reliable transportation options that will utilize our rail and inland river networks is just good business,” Edwards said. He thanked the Biden/Harris administration, the Arkansas congressional delegation, the U.S. Maritime Administration, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, State Sen. Keith Ingram, Phillips County Judge Clark Hall, Helena-West Helena Mayor Kevin Smith and the Arkansas Waterways Commission for supporting this award. In addition, he thanked Aimee Andres of Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals for her advocacy in supporting the inland river transportation system and the officials of the Memphis Engineer District for their support.

According to Edwards, this “has been a long journey” that started in 2017. “We needed help with master planning and long-range needs. The Walton Family Foundation helped fund a master plan that we did with Jacobs Engineering, which is well-known for helping industrial sites plan and grow. I will always remember how much the Jacobs officials stressed the need for getting the water tower if we were to succeed as a transportation and industrial location. We will have it now thanks to this funding.”Work on the project will begin after the formal notice to proceed is issued.  Under the terms of this program, all materials and equipment must be manufactured in the United States.