West Memphis, Ark., has been awarded a $10.9 million grant to expand the West Memphis Intermodal project, which will increase the industrial and bulk shipping capabilities of the area,
reports the Memphis Business Journal.

The money will strengthen current rail to provide for heavier cargo loads and extend current rail by about 13,500 feet to the base of the St. Francis Levee. This would allow truck access to the Port of West Memphis and will also provide for a "multimodal transload facility to support expanded export cargo of bulk commodities."

The $10.95 million grant was awarded by the Department of Transportation's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER IV) discretionary grant program that supports transportation projects with potential for great economic impact.

Expansion of shipping capabilities of the port will bring much needed jobs to the area, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark, told the Journal.

"I understand a number of companies, ranging from agriculture to steel, have been waiting on this news," he said. "To say I'm excited about these funds is an understatement."

Another benefit, said U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., is the potential for increased use of inland waterways and the possibility for Arkansas companies to more easily promote goods and move them to other countries.

"With the expansion of the Panama Canal, communities like West Memphis uniquely situated along waterways are positioned to benefit from the increased opportunities," Sen. Boozman said.