The first phase of a riverfront construction project aimed at improving traffic flow for commercial trucks is nearly complete and is set to come in under budget, a county official says.
The construction project on Front Street began in November 2016 with funding from both private and public entities.
Estimated in 2016 to cost $8.1 million, the entire project is expected to cost less than $7.6 million once the final touches on the project are complete, according to Taulby Roach, a consultant for St. Clair County Transit District. Local agencies only paid 35 percent of the bill, with state, federal and private agencies providing the rest.
The first phase of improvements to the area — known as the River Bridge District — included work on Front Street from Trendley Avenue to the Bunge-SCF grain facility in Fairmont City. The project’s second phase included a new roundabout near the Casino Queen and improvements to B Street and parts of River Park Drive. Work is 98 percent complete, Roach said, with only quality inspections, sign placement and a few other final details remaining.
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As part of the project, Illinois 3 was relocated to separate commercial trucks heading to the grain facilities and passenger vehicles going to the casino. Truck drivers can now avoid River Park Drive to get to Front Street and their respective grain facilities without disrupting passenger vehicle traffic.
The improvements make it easier for trucks carrying grain to come and go, said a Bunge spokeswoman.
“It was just that last mile. There was lots of flooding and potholes. It was really hard on their equipment,” spokeswoman Deb Seidel said. “Now that it has been redone, it’s easier, it’s cleaner, it’s safer.”
The redevelopment opens up land for potential future development, said St. Clair County Economic Development Director Terry Beach. One national trucking carrier is already looking at the area and other sites in the county, he said.
“Growth follows infrastructure,” Beach said.
Here’s a breakdown of the costs and which agencies contributed:
U.S. Economic Development Administration: $2.6 million;
Illinois Department of Transportation: $124,795;
Southwestern Illinois Development Authority: $1.5 million;
St. Clair County Transit District: $900,000;
Metro East Parks and Recreation District: $500,000;
Bunge-SCF Grain: $500,000;
Cargill Inc.: $500,000;
Casino Queen: $500,000.
Waterloo-based Baxmeyer Construction provided general contracting services for the project and Thouvenot, Wade and Moerchen did the engineering work.
Cargill Inc. operates a grain facility on Front Street near the casino. A Cargill spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Illinois American Water spent roughly $9 million on replacing more than two and a half miles of water main lines along Front Street, according to spokeswoman Karen Cotton.
Bunge-SCF Grain receives grains and other commodities for shipping and was built as a partnership between agribusiness company Bungee North America and SCF Agri/Fuels.
Cargill is a global corporation based in Minnesota that provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services.