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EAST ST. LOUIS  •  Work is underway on an $8.1 million project along the city's riverfront to overhaul Front Street from Trendley Avenue to where the road dead-ends in Fairmont City, a project that includes work on connecting roads.  

The first phase of the "River Bridge District Project" includes rebuilding and upgrading Front Street for better access to Cargill and Bunge-SCF, according to a news release. The project also aims to open up several hundred acres of undeveloped, newly accessible ground for investment by other agribusiness and distribution companies.

Work includes adding a thick concrete surface to Front Street, and widening the road to 30 feet from its existing 20 to 24 foot footprint to better handle the heavy truck traffic, especially during harvest season, the news release said.

Trendley Avenue from Front Street to Main Street will be resurfaced, as well as work on West Missouri Avenue from Front Street to B Street, and on B Street from Missouri Avenue to River Park Drive. All three streets will be 24 feet wide when the work is done. 

Planners hope the work will give better access to the Casino Queen and to East St. Louis residents, and will better separate commercial traffic — instead of using River Park Drive, truck traffic would come down Trendley Avenue to Front Street and have direct access from there to Illinois Route 3, which is now connected to the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

As part of the rebuilding of Front Street, a separate lane for pedestrian and bike traffic is set be included to tie into Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park. A new roundabout near the Casino Queen on River Park Drive is part of future work, and will help with traffic congestion issues, the release says.

Bunge-SFC, Cargill and Casino Queen each committed $500,000 for the project. Other funding comes from a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration; $1.5 million from the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority; $900,000 from the St. Clair County Transit District; $500,000 from the Metro East Park and Recreation District; and a $125,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Leah Thorsen is a regional reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Email her at lthorsen@post-dispatch.com and follow her on Twitter: @leahthorsen

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