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FORT SMITH -- The Western Arkansas Intermodal Authority will apply for Economic Development Administration disaster grant funds to put toward development of an inland port and multimodal facility on the Arkansas River in Crawford County.

The authority's board of directors approved during a special meeting Wednesday an intergovernmental agreement between the authority, the cities of Fort Smith and Van Buren, and Sebastian and Crawford counties regarding submission for the grant.

Sasha Grist and Ashley Garris of the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District and Mat Pitsch, executive director of the intermodal authority, put the proposal together.

"[The Economic Development Administration] came to us and let us know that some disaster grant monies were available because of the recent flooding," said Grist, executive director of the planning and development district. "Usually, the EDA grants require a 50% match. Because this is a special type of funding -- this is disaster funding -- we're only required a 20% match, so we thought it was a great grant for us to look at."

The application will consist of completing an environmental review that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked on in draft form for the intermodal authority, according to a summary of the proposed project that was provided at Wednesday's meeting.

It also will include initiating and completing all permitting for the project site, as well as any other environmental documentation like a no-rise certificate, completing an engineering study to project costs and needs of all utilities for the port project, and conducting a preliminary design for the port and multimodal facility.

All engineering, environmental and consulting firms will be professionally procured with Van Buren, Fort Smith, and Sebastian County and Crawford County being represented in the process of procuring all services, the summary states. The planning district and authority will assist, he says.

Total estimated cost of applying for disaster grant funds is $450,000, according to the summary. That includes a $25,000 Western Arkansas Planning and Development District administrative fee and all correspondence among the parties involved.

Eighty percent of the funding, or $360,000, will come from the Economic Development Administration grant. The local match of $90,000 will be split evenly among the four governmental entities, with each contributing $22,500, according to the summary.

"Once funded, this would entail completing all grant paperwork, conducting meetings, completing pay requests, assisting in all procurement, attending bid openings and all project meetings, as well as completing close-out work," the summary states.

State Desk on 12/20/2019

Print Headline: Authority to pursue grant for inland port

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