Ground Broken For Three Rivers Project In Little Rock
The Little Rock and Tulsa Engineer Districts hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking event for the Three Rivers Project at David D. Terry Park near Little Rock, Ark., on August 24. Keynote speakers for the event were Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Connor and Little Rock District Commander Col. Damon Knarr.
Others in attendance included staff members for Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, Rep. Bruce Westerman and Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and representatives from the Southwestern Engineer Division, Arkansas Waterways Commission and Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
Bryan Day, executive director of the Port of Little Rock; Cassandra Caldwell, executive director of the Arkansas Waterways Commission; and David Yarbrough, executive director of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, were all in attendance. Due to the heat, Day said, the ceremony was kept “short and sweet.”
The Three Rivers Project is centered on the confluence of the White and Arkansas Rivers upstream from Montgomery Point Lock and Dam, where the White and Arkansas naturally want to merge. “If this happens, we could experience a loss of navigation pool in the Arkansas Post Canal above Montgomery Point Lock and Dam,” said Jay Townsend, chief of public affairs for the Little Rock District. “This loss [could] have a significant impact on commerce and the navigation industry. If a breech occurred in the project area, navigation would cease for extended periods because of dangerous cross currents during high flows and a loss of navigation pool during low flows. If impacts to navigation last for more than 100 days, it could result in $300 million in lost navigation benefits and commerce as well as cause severe impacts to an estimated 200 acres of bottomland hardwood forest and aquatic habitat.”
The project has been given $109.1 million in federal funding and includes four construction components, including a new containment structure and a relief channel.
“The fear behind the project was that with increased flooding, the mouth of the Arkansas River might become unnavigable,” Day said.
A feasibility study completed in 2017 recommended modifications to the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System “that will ensure the long-term sustainability of reliable navigation on the MKARNS.” The project is intended to control flooding and prevent a possible Mississippi River cutoff from forming with the mouths of the White and Arkansas rivers.