With river re-opened, Port of Catoosa getting back to business

Thursday, June 13th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Commercial traffic on the Arkansas River has resumed. The US Coast Guard re-opened the river on Wednesday after a two-week shutdown.

The Port of Catoosa says it's never seen a shutdown quite like this. And as News on Six reporter Jenni Monet explains, getting back to business is good news for everyone.

The waters from Port to Port are flowing with barge traffic once again following a halt in business after the I-40 bridge collapse. Bob Portiss with the Port Authority, "We had barges here ready to be loaded but for the most part you could look around our channel and things were really really slow."

With the barges back in business it has one local business loading up and ready to go. Steve Taylor with Johnston's Port 33, "Thru Friday and Saturday we'll work all day. It will be pretty hectic with all the back log to deliver to the customers." Crews aboard 'Mister Lew' of Catoosa's Johnston's Port 33 say nearly 25 barges are ready to move onto patient customers who've waited for goods over the past two weeks. "The two week situation wasn't a walk in the park and it would have gotten worse if it was any more prolonged than that."

With an estimated 300,000 of business lost each day of the closure. Portiss says they are ready to get back to work. "When you consider 60 trucks can deliver what one single barge can in one trip, you begin to respect the business if you shut us down. Had we been another weekend, it would have been affecting farmers and everybody else."

One of the first barge tows to dock at the Port of Catoosa last night belongs to Magnolia Marine. That’s the Mississippi company that owns the towboat involved in the I-40 accident.