FORT SMITH, Arkansas - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to work with government officials in Oklahoma and Arkansas to develop plans to improve the Arkansas River.

The Corps announced Thursday that it has signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Arkansas-Oklahoma Port Operators Association to help ensure the continued viability of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.

The plan calls for unspecified future development and modernization of a 455-mile stretch of the river that crosses both Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Port Operators Associated President David Yarbrough says there is about $100 million in maintenance and repairs needed along the river to ensure that navigation remains viable.

"This agreement brings together the Corps, ports and terminals, and the stakeholders along the length of the 445-mile navigation system in order to address the numerous issues that we are facing today," said David Yarbrough, AOPOA President. "There is currently a backlog of critical maintenance and repairs totaling approximately $100 million. We must collectively discover and implement solutions that will address these needed repairs and insure the viability of navigation."

Army Corps of Engineers Col. Glen Masset concurred.

"With the increasing age of this system's infrastructure, a partnership between all entities who utilize or oversee waterway operations is essential," said. Col. Glen Masset. "This is a very positive step forward to ensure that waterway transportation in this region is preserved for future generations."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.