Changes coming to the Port of Catoosa

CATOOSA, Okla. - Changes are on the way for the Tulsa Port of Catoosa.

It's one of the largest, inland river ports in the country. Now a $1 million grant could fuel the local economy.

The amount of cargo that passes through the port of Catoosa is enough to boggle your mind.

"Figure 60 semi-trailer trucks to a barge. Not unusual to see 12 barges go out of here at the same time," said port director Bob Portiss. "So if you assume for a moment those barges are filled with grain, that's the equivalent of 720 trailer trucks."

From steel to crude oil and grain, 11 million tons of cargo moves along the Arkansas River waterway each year. The port supports 7,000 jobs and 65 industries.

Dock manager Bill Golden has watched it change over the decades.

"When the boom went back in the late 70's, that's when we started getting real busy. And that's when I like to say we were put on the map," Golden said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation just announced it will award the port a $6.4 million grant that will cover nearly half of a rehabilitation project for the port's main dock.

"The port has a few years on it and it needs updated," Golden said. "So it's going to be pretty good."

Crews will demolish a warehouse on the main dock so they can fit three barges in below at the same time.

Barge traffic brings in $1.3 million of commerce to Oklahoma every day. Officials say this grant will set up the port for years to come.

"What this will do is enhance the logistics center that we already have. And make this much more effective, and be able to be that much more efficient in our cargo handling capabilities for our customers," Portiss said.

He says the port reduces transportation costs in Oklahoma by 15 percent.

"A lot of people call this Tulsa's best kept secret. Perhaps," Portiss said. "But it is an incredible industrial facility, supplying a tremendous amount of people."

Officials say they'll be able to handle a million tons of cargo a year with the expanded dock.

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