FORT SMITH (KFSM) - The largest towboat in the United States was in the River Valley Friday (Aug.8). The Motor Vessel Mississippi traveled downriver as part of the Mississippi River Commission's second inspection. Area leaders were on board and took a look at how the river commerce affects our area.
For the first time in four years, experts inspected the Arkansas River. Leaders looked in - depth at the river's navigation system and it's benefits to the area. They also talked about what the river means for jobs in the River Valley.
Five Rivers Distribution located on the Van Buren side of the river said right now, they rely on 12- foot barges to carry products up and down the river. The distribution transports coal, scrap metal, and other bulk products to all different parts of the world. And that makes it a global trading community in Fort Smith.
President Marty Shell with the Five Rivers Distribution said that 12- foot barges aren't big enough.
"Currently right now its at a 9-foot depth, and has about fifteen or sixteen hundred tons of product on it with a 12-foot channel, said Shell. "We can have 48 percent more product using the same barge by going another 3-foot deeper in the river."
According to Shell, "By doing that, it would give us another tool in our works for economic development."
The Motor Vessel Mississippi was docked at the Riverfront Park below the Garrison Avenue bridge Friday (Aug.8).
The towboat will now head west to Muskogee. Sooner state visitors there will be able to see the boat.