With the official launch of the St. Louis Regional Freightway came a draft list of potential projects that are needed to align economic development with the region’s supply chain, the Bi-State Development enterprise said.
The project development list included $1.5 to $1.6 billion worth of work over 18 projects.
Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis President Mike McCarthy, who served on the needs analysis committee leading up to the freightway launch, said the list was a living project list, and as projects are completed and removed, new ones could be added.
The committee identified several high priority projects, including replacing the Merchants Bridge, replacing the I-270 bridge over the Mississippi River, widening I-270 from four to six lanes from Illinois 111 to Lilac Avenue in Missouri, relocating Illinois 3 from River Park Drive in East St. Louis south to Monsanto Avenue in Sauget, and building a railroad bypass at Falling Springs Road/Illinois 3 in Sauget.
Those that are high priority were selected based on the projects economic impact, multimodal impact and ability to improve efficiency.
Merchants Bridge is 126 years old and is owned by the Terminal Railroad Association.
To pay for the estimated $222 million replacement, the Freightway has proposed the railroad association contribute $46 million and finance an additional $101 million. The Freightway also is asking for a federal grant of $75 million.
That’s why we’re going to work with our elected leaders, (and) work closely with IDOT and MoDOT on state and federal funding. The key to that is we also need to consider public-private partnerships.
Mary Lamie, executive director of the St. Louis Regional Freightway
McCarthy also said requests to have federal grant money to help pay for a freight network analysis in the region, and a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant for I-270 improvements have been made as well.
Mary Lamie, executive director of the freightway, said she is going through the process of identifying projects and justifying their need based on public and private support, “so everyone understands those projects have in relation to our economy and building our supply chain.”
“That’s why we’re going to work with our elected leaders, (and) work closely with IDOT and MoDOT on state and federal funding,” Lamie added. “The key to that is we also need to consider public-private partnerships.”
Part of the freightway’s duties is marketing the region. Wednesday’s event in St. Louis also included the unveiling of a new website, www.thefreightway.com.
Among the regional assets the freightway wants to promote are interstate access, five airports, six Class 1 railroads, inland ports and job ready workforce, among other things.
Trade, transportation and opportunity have always been linked together.
Gregory Nadeau, Federal Highway Administration administrator
Studies have shown the region has assets to be a key distribution center, including being within a three-day truck drive of anywhere in the continental United States.
Administrator Gregory G. Nadeau of the Federal Highway Administration was the keynote speaker at the kickoff event and discussed the connection between economic growth and investments in transportation infrastructure.
“What you’re doing here, with your regional freight district, is critically important and really smart,” Nadeau said. “Trade, transportation and opportunity have always been linked together.”
High priority project costs
▪ Replacing the I-270 bridge is estimated to cost $160 million to $170 million. IDOT has set aside $9 million for preliminary engineering work.
▪ Widening I-270 from Illinois 111 to Lilac Avenue is estimated to cost $350 million to $400 million.
▪ Constructing a relocated Illinois 3 from East St. Louis to Sauget is estimated to cost between $125 million to $170 million depending on how many lanes are built.
▪ Building a railroad bypass for $20 million to $25 million is needed because business and commuter vehicles tend to back up on Illinois 3 when a slowing move train goes through Sauget.