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Corps Taking Comments On MKARNS 12-Foot Channel Project

February 3, 2024   The Waterways Journal

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The Little Rock and Tulsa Engineer districts are conducting a 30-day public comment period starting on February 1 and lasting until March 1 for the draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) and draft Finding of No Significant Impact for the Mcclellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) 12-foot Channel Deepening Project.

The SEA and supporting documents analyze potential effects on the environment associated with implementing proposed changes to the congressionally authorized channel deepening project evaluated in the 2005 Arkansas River Navigation Study Final Report and Environmental Impact Statement. The comment period provides an opportunity for the public to give input on any information contained in the supplemental environmental documents.

The earliest construction could begin is the end of 2024.

An Environmental Assessment fully discloses the purpose and need, alternatives considered, baseline conditions and the environmental and social effects of a proposed project.

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Authorized under Section 136 of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 2004, the MKARNS 12-Foot channel purpose is to improve commercial navigation operation by deepening the current 9-foot navigation channel to a 12-foot operational depth. More than 85 percent of the MKARNS is already at this 12-foot operational depth. The 445-mile-long system includes 18 locks and dams. The project area stretches from the Tulsa Port of Catoosa to Montgomery Point Lock & Dam near the junction with the Mississippi River.

Roughly $5 billion in goods are moved on the MKARNS annually. In addition, shipping more cargo on the MKARNS versus road or rail may have the added benefit of reducing landside congestion on roads and railways. Lastly, air emissions from barges on a ton per mile basis are far less than trucks or rail carrying a similar weight.

The proposed project features are based on updated modeling carried out since 2021and include dredging, rock weirs to self-scour parts of the channel bed and modifications to some locks to accommodate tows with a draft of more than 9 feet.

The draft SEA and its supporting appendices, draft Finding of No Significant Impact document and the original 2005 ARNS FR/FEIS can be found online at

Comments may be submitted online at; by mail to: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: MKARNS 12-Foot Channel Project Biologist (RPEC),  P.O. Box 867, Little Rock, AR 72203;  or by e-mail to