Imagine a "river-based" highway system to carry large amounts of goods down the Arkansas river.
That's the project that's been in the works for more than a year now and today many from Northwest Arkansas showed their support.
The Arkansas River currently has a barge system but it can only handle a certain amount of traffic. Now, if approved, the water ways could carry more goods through the area, increasing commerce but saving the environment at the same time.
"This can change the face of not only just Fayetteville and Fort Smith, but our region and the whole state," Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan said.
Expanding the Arkansas water barge from 9 feet to 12 would make a huge economic impact. The Fort Smith and Fayetteville mayors say, it will be monumental.
"It's just a win, win for everybody, I'm just very excited, this is like a real historic moment," Mayor Jordan said.
This is the fifth time in a year these movers and shakers have met over the issue.
"We focused initially on transportation, and out of the transportation issue we really identified the channelization of the river to a 12 foot depth as a key element," Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders said.
Making the river wider and deeper will allow for 40 percent more goods to be transported in our area.
"Which would be much more beneficial for the industries, businesses shipping in, shipping out, at a better cost, helps them provide better jobs and to attract companies to bring in jobs to take advantage of that," Mayor Sanders said.
Why not trains or trucks? The barge is cleaner and cost effective.
"It is the cheapest form of transportation in the world," Mayor Jordan said.
Research shows a barge system can move more goods on far less fuel, which lowers both the monetary and environmental toll on the community.
Using one gallon of fuel, carrying 1 ton of goods, a truck can travel 59 miles, a train can travel 202 miles, but a barge can travel 514 miles.
Mayor Sandy Sanders said if we want this project to happen, we have to start now.
"Assuming the funding is there today it would still take a significant amount of time to do the dredging to the jetties to do all the work that needs to be done, so it's a long term project."
While the project will cost more than 20 million dollars "The Institute for Economic Advancement" found that the investment would far outweigh the initial costs.
They hope to have a plan in place to present to legislators within the next two months to they can start the funding process.