Lankford, Inhofe, Boozman, Cotton Recognize 50 Years of Commerce on the MKARNS

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford today joined Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Boozman (R-AR), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) to recognize 50 years of commerce on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) in Oklahoma. The MKARNS, also known as the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, is a key inland waterway navigation system for freight movement extending 445 river miles from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Muskogee, Oklahoma, through Arkansas, connecting to the Mississippi River.

“The MKARNS is a key interstate commerce component to Oklahoma and the region, and its economic impact has been vital to Oklahoma businesses and industry for half a century now,” said Lankford. “We should continue to invest in infrastructure modernization in and around the ports and waterways, maintain any safety and security needs, and ensure workers have what they need to keep MKARNS moving forward and thriving for the next 50 years and beyond.” 

“Since its creation, the MKARNS has promoted freight mobility, expanded agricultural exports and enabled the cost effective movement of iron, steel, and other products—empowering economic development and job growth across Oklahoma,” said Inhofe. “This vital economic engine and freight corridor was the largest Army Corps of Engineers civil works project undertaken at the time of its construction and is most deserving of celebration. It has been a top priority of mine to work with a vast array of stakeholders, including the five public ports, 50 private terminals and over 90 industries that use the MKARNS, to ensure our inland waterway remains a key navigation channel. As we look to the next 50 years of operations, we will work together to modernize and deepen our marine highway so it can continue to anchor economic growth and prosperity for the entire region over the next 50 years.”   

“Over the last 50 years, the MKARNS has had a tremendous impact on navigation, flood control, power generation, habitat conservation and economic development in Arkansas and regionally,” said Boozman. “This ambitious and visionary project has resulted in an inland waterway that allows low-cost, fuel-efficient transportation for more than 10 million tons of cargo each year, connecting people and goods throughout the US and to the rest of the world. I join my colleagues in celebrating this milestone and will continue working to ensure the corridor is functional and vibrant well into the future.”

“The MKARNS functions as a gateway from the Mississippi River through Arkansas and Oklahoma—allowing easy transport of goods and commodities,” said Cotton. “I’m grateful for the many Arkansans and Oklahomans who keep this navigation system running, and I look forward to many more successful years of service to come.”


One June 5, 1971, President Richard Nixon officially dedicated the MKARNS at a ceremony at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. On average the MKARNS moves 11 million tons of commodities worth more than $4 billion every year and supports more than 56,000 jobs, driving economic growth and efficiency for a 12-state region consisting of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, and Idaho. In 2015, the Corps upgraded the classification of the MKARNS from “Connector” to “Corridor” on the National Marine Highway, designated the MKARNS as a high-use waterway system and labeled the MKARNS as Marine Highway 40. In addition to navigation, Congress authorized additional uses for the MKARNS, including flood control, hydropower, recreation, water supply, and wildlife conservation, all of which continue to contribute to the economic viability of the MKARNS for Oklahoma and surrounding states.

Lankford joined Inhofe to pass S.Res.195 through the Senate to honor 2021 as the 50th anniversary of the MKARNS; to recognize that investments in our inland waterways system support our economy; and to commit to completing the deepening of the MKARNS to its fully authorized, 12-foot depth.