Bob Portiss, Director of Tulsa Port of Catoosa, Honoree by White House as 2015 Champion of Change

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The Tulsa Port of Catoosa announced today that the White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation has named Bob Portiss, Port Director of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, a 2015 Champion of Change.

The White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced today that Bob Portiss, Port Director of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa has been named a 2015 Champion of Change.

The White House Champions of Change Program highlights the stories and examples of citizens across the nation, who are leading projects and initiatives that move their communities forward. Champions of Change: Transportation Innovators is a national program to honor leaders who have devoted their time and efforts in developing innovative ways that transportation helps their community reach new heights. This year’s theme is Beyond Traffic: Innovators for Transportation for the Future.

Bob Portiss will be one of 11 honorees recognized at the White House on October 13, 2015. The Champions of Change will also be honored by the Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx at the White House event.

“This is certainly an unbelievable honor,” said Bob Portiss. “Throughout my career, I have been an advocate for inland waterways issues at both the state and national level. To now see those efforts being recognized as part of the future of our nation’s transportation is a truly rewarding moment.”

Mr. Portiss has been a passionate advocate for inland waterways issues at both the state and national level for not only the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), but all of the U.S. navigable waterways.

In the 1980s, Mr. Portiss and a group of MKARNS advocates formed the Coalition for Montgomery Point Lock and Dam and began a 25-year campaign to support the construction of a lock and dam at the confluence of the MKARNS and the Mississippi River to resolve issues that threatened future navigation; and through their tireless efforts Montgomery Point Lock and Dam was authorized, funded and built, opening to service in July 2005.

“While our waterways and ports are an established mode of transportation, their relevancy is growing more and more as we look to the challenges we face during the next few decades,” said Portiss. “While our roads become more congested and greenhouse gases continue to threaten the environment, our nation’s inland waterways are running efficiently and are still the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation.”

Mr. Portiss’ tireless advocacy for a partnership relationship with the Corps has led to system unity among stakeholders from two states and from two USACE districts; and as a result, in August 2009, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Mr. Portiss the prestigious Bronze de Fleury Medal presented to honor those individuals who have provided significant contributions to Army engineering.

“I also believe that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for our nation's highways and rail lines to handle the volume of international trade that is projected to double over the next decade,” said Portiss. “The only realistic solution is more utilization of our nation’s inland waterways system for cargo transportation needs. This is why I am also bringing attention to the fact that if we do not repair and preserve the infrastructure on our nation's waterways, we will lose them and the economic benefits they provide.”

In 2013, Bob Portiss was appointed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to chair the Oklahoma Port Task Force to study and develop a comprehensive plan to accommodate the added burden on Oklahoma ports, roads, and bridges resulting from the reopening of the expanded Panama Canal.

Multi Media B Roll for interview with Bob Portis can be found here:

Questions answered include:

  •     What makes the Oklahoma Port of Catoosa unique?
  •     Why were you selected?
  •     What is the economic impact of the Port?
  •     Why is shipping by water the most economical?
  •     Is shipping environmentally friendly?

ABOUT THE TULSA PORT OF CATOOSA — The Tulsa Port of Catoosa is a singular combination of a multi-modal shipping complex and 2,500 acre industrial park resulting in an economic impact of $300 million to Oklahoma. The complex hosts roughly 60 companies and employs nearly 4,000 Oklahomans.

Located at the head of navigation for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in Northeast Oklahoma, it is one of the largest, most inland river-ports in the United States. The Tulsa Port of Catoosa’s unique position allows companies to move millions of tons of bulk freight by barge each year and at a fraction of the cost and environmental impact of rail or truck. Just a few of the bulk freight industries utilizing the Tulsa Port of Catoosa includes portions of fertilizer distributors, industrial gas suppliers, wheat growers and manufacturers of consumer goods.

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Chelsie Bowmar

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Jeff Yowell
Tulsa Port of Catoosa
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