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High water slows barge traffic at Port

Muskogee Phoenix
muskogeephoenix.com
June 28, 2015
D. E. Smoot | Phoenix Staff Writer

It's down 40 percent from May 2014

Barge traffic to and from the Port of Muskogee tanked during the second half of May because of high water levels and flow rates resulting from widespread flooding across the region.

Data released Tuesday show materials shipped by barge during the month of May totaled 29,707 tons, down 40.49 percent, or 20,213 tons, when compared with figures reported for the month in 2014. All barge traffic in May consisted of imports with clay, steel coils and fertilizer making up almost 79 percent of the cargo tonnage.

A better-than-expected first quarter tempered year-to-date numbers, with 311,250 tons of material being shipped to and from the Port of Muskogee during the first five months of the year. That represents a drop of 9,688 tons of cargo compared with imports and exports totaling 320,938 tons shipped by barge during the first five months of 2014, a 3.02 percent decrease.

Port Director Scott Robinson said W.D. Mayo Lock and Dam 14 reopened Monday after river flows fell to safe levels, which clears the way for 34 barges headed toward the Port of Muskogee. Robinson said some shoaling has been reported along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dispatched dredges to areas where problems have been reported.

"Boats are traveling ... at higher risks than normal, but they are traveling — there are a lot of barges that need to move," Robinson said. "A month from now lake elevations will still be high, but if we don't have any more rain, the river will be OK."

Robinson said rail traffic at the port continued its trend downward, which he attributed to repricing within the energy sector. The port's three primary rail users, Robinson said, supply pipe for the oil and gas industry and rail shipments from those tenants dropped in May after one-month rebound in April.

Data show cargo shipped by rail in May totaled 11,810 tons, which is down 38.17 percent from the 19,102 tons of cargo shipped to and from the port by rail in May 2014. Year-to-date figures show cargo shipped by rail to and from the port during the first five months of 2015 totaled 85,340 tons, down 32.37 percent, or 40,845 tons, transported by rail during the first five months of 2014.

Rail imports in May totaled 7,570.27 tons and consisted primarily of glass cullet, asphalt and steel, which made up 83 percent of all rail imports. Cargo exported by rail totaled 4,240 tons, with pipe and coke making up almost 89 percent of rail exports.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

Source: http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/local_news/high-water-slows-barge-traffic-at-port/article_d2611701-827b-5d5e-a411-05ee43fba08b.html

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