Regarding the commentary "Country's freight nexus is ready to compete for infrastructure projects" (March 29):
Completion of the Merchants Bridge was an amazing accomplishment in 1890. Consider that a few weeks ago, a walking bridge in Miami under construction collapsed onto a highway below. The Florida construction team had computers, texting, modern construction equipment and the ability to shut down the highway below the bridge. The original Merchants Bridge group had paper, pencil, slide rules, drafting tables, the telegraph and the unstoppable Mississippi River. The Florida group was building a foot traffic bridge, but the Merchants Bridge is for trains.
Despite all of the original obstacles, the 128-year-old, three-span bridge remains in use today. The bridge should be a source of pride to the St. Louis area.
The 5 mph speed limit seems a negligible delay. What proof is there, as claimed in the commentary, that building a replacement bridge will multiply rail traffic and bring in “$456 million of local economic activity over a 20-year period”? What does the phrase “local economic activity” even mean?
The commentary states that only one train at a time can use the bridge, but there are two tracks on the bridge. Why not repair the Merchants Bridge so that it can again manage two trains at a time? Finally, why use federal money on this replacement project, which would mainly benefit private railroad companies rather than the general public?