The Faulkner County Quorum Court has been asked to consider participation in the Regional Intermodal Transportation Authority that is planned to include Conway, Faulkner and Perry counties.
The actual implementation of the plan may not come about for seven to 10 years, said UCA marketing professor Don Bradley.
Bradley spoke on behalf of the RITA plan, saying this initiative could "position us to do something when opportunity knocks."
The intermodal transportation would use intermodal freight containers, allowing the freight to be transported using air, rail, ships and trucks without having to handle the specific cargo between modes of transportation.
"They don’t have to unload it," Bradley said. "They can just pick up the container and move it ... It’s the new way of moving things around the world, and it’s something that’s going to save a lot of money."
Passenger transport options include airport, highways, public transportation and railroad.
In regards to transport on the Arkansas River, Bradley said opportunities lie in a port for commercial and recreational use, pipelines, a railroad bridge, a highway bridge and expanding the depth to accommodate a 12-foot channel.
A 12-foot channel would allow barges to move up and down the river at full capacity, Bradley said, and there are already talks with the Army Corps of Engineers to see how they could achieve that depth.
State Sen. Jason Rapert said he had been to the Perry County Chamber of Commerce where they passed a resolution asking their quorum court to consider participating in the RITA.
Rapert emphasized the importance of working regionally in partnership with neighboring counties.
"We have some good things happening in our community, but when you talk about tying in and looking ahead at how that could all work together, we knew that there’s going to have to be some regional cooperation," he said.
Rapert said there are several funding possibilities, but it would not need taxing authority from the quorum court to get it off the ground. Legislation went through during the last session allowing for up to 90 percent of the cost of development.
County Judge Allen Dodson said he has been working on the concept with several other local leaders and he has a "pretty good deal of comfort with it" and felt it had to be presented to the quorum court to be vetted and thought about.
"Big projects can be undertaken and they can be undertaken well," Dodson said. "This can be done well and be a good thing or it can be done poorly and be a bad thing."
Dodson said the plan should be referred to one of the court’s committees for further discussion.
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