The Port of Little Rock, Ark, reports that May was a hard month due to the weather. Barge traffic at the port came to a halt on May 2 due to the historic level of flooding on the Arkansas River. Little Rock was fortunate to have enough loaded barges on hand to keep LSI busy until the river rose to a level that shut dock operations down. A total of 59 barges were worked during the month of May with more than 91,000 tons of various commodities handled.
May rail activity started strong; however, heavy rains and flooding slowed everything down by the end of the month. Miscellaneous switching was lower than normal with only 22 cars being switched from the storage tracks. Union Pacific had several subdivisions or lines in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas that were closed because of flooding and high water. Little Rock Port Authority (LRPA) says it was most affected by service outages on the Van Buren Subdivision which runs from Fort Smith to North Little Rock, AR. BNSF was affected by flooding and service interruptions in the Pine Bluff Yard. LRPA was able to serve customers and help them keep production moving from rail cars that were stored in its yard. The Port Railroad ended the month with the total number of cars switched and invoiced at 798 rail cars.
Little Rock Port Authority says cargo handling at the port remains significantly ahead of last year with 247 barges worked through the first five months, versus 197 through the same period in 2018. The slackwater dock worked 45 barges and 14 barges were worked at the river dock in May. Additionally, tonnage across the docks for the same period is up, with 377,000 tons handled versus CY 2018 tonnage of 302,000. Both vessel calls and tonnage are up 25 percent on a year-to-year basis. Commodities handled during the month included aluminum tees and ingots, bauxite, DAP, lightweight aggregate, potash, rock and sand, steel coils, sulfate, urea and wetcake.
Terminal activity saw over 40 railcars worked and truck traffic remained strong. The month of May ended with both docks idle due to high water and very limited activity on the terminal.
“The Port of Little Rock weathered the flood with minimal consequence” said Bryan Day, executive director of the LRPA. “We were much more fortunate than many of our colleagues along the river. Please continue to keep the many people affected by the recent flooding event in your thoughts and prayers. Together, we will work together to rebuild and reinvest in the river.”