Little Rock, AR — John Edwards, economic development director for the Helena Harbor and Phillips County Economic Development, delves into the economic importance of healthy infrastructure for Arkansas in a recent op-ed for the Arkansas Business Journal. While other aspects of the state’s transportation systems are faltering, he says, freight railroads demonstrate what can happen when infrastructure is fully funded:
“Rail’s massive investments, which total some $100 billion in the last four years alone, work to enhance efficiency and safety for shippers. Whether supporting intermodal freight through new facilities and added track capacity or faster service through precision routing and new technologies, this spending ultimately benefits the businesses that ship by rail, like our port customers. In 2018 alone, Union Pacific plans to spend $127 million on its Arkansas network.
That’s why Helena Harbor worked hard in recent years to restore our short line connection via a public-private partnership with the Delta Regional Authority, Walton Family Foundation and Genesee & Wyoming, the parent company of our local short line Arkansas Midland Railroad. Today, the port’s seven miles of new rail connect our local businesses to Union Pacific and the larger rail network, an efficient gateway to the West Coast and Gulf for Arkansas exports.”
Sorbello goes on to discuss rail in the context of Arkansas’s connections to international trade:
“Trains are also vital for Arkansas’ access to North American trade corridors. After all, Mexico and Canada are the state’s largest trading partners by value, with this trade supporting more than 110,000 jobs. Last year Arkansas exports to NAFTA countries increased by nearly 14 percent.”