LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Little Rock and Tulsa districts, along with the Southwestern Division, are developing a strategy to focus greater long-range planning and funds on critical maintenance needed in the next five years to ensure that the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System remains a reliable, resilient, and relevant system for future generations.
This strategy is the result of Little Rock and Tulsa districts implementing and evaluating the Corps’ “Levels of Service” policy on the MKARNS, which correlates lock availability with commercial lock usage in an effort to increase maintenance.
“The Little Rock and Tulsa districts have always had a good relationship with MKARNS stakeholders,” said James McKinnie, chief of the Little Rock District’s Navigation and Maintenance Section. “They are on board with our plans to improve our maintenance program on the system.”
The evolving strategy has five parts:
* Continue to review the MKARNS level of service with input from stakeholders.
* Implement the recreation lockage policy to reduce wear on lock equipment and increase time for maintenance.
* Schedule maintenance-driven lock closures as far in advance as practical to provide industry with confidence in their shipment schedules. Scheduled closures of a few days allow for more beneficial maintenance than daily closures of a few hours. Little Rock and Tulsa districts are collaborating on a five-year maintenance plan to this effect.
* Review MKARNS operations to identify changes that can make more funding available for maintenance.
* Perform a “gap analysis” and work with stakeholders to bridge the gap between current federal investment and the maintenance requirements of the system.
“The adoption of a governance board for the MKARNS now allows the Little Rock and Tulsa districts to prioritize our five- year maintenance plan for the entire system,” said McKinnie. “We believe these strategies will benefit all users and ensure that the system remains viable for future generations.”