The St. Louis Regional Freightway’s 2022 Priority Projects List features 21 projects representing a total investment of $2.75 billion. The projects represent key infrastructure needs of the manufacturing and logistics industries in the Eastern Missouri and Southwestern Illinois area, and more than $1.1 billion of the projects on the list are already funded and under construction, expected to start in 2021/2022, or scheduled to begin within the next few years.
“The 2022 list indicates tremendous progress is being made on nearly two dozen projects that will strengthen critical roads, bridges, rail infrastructure and port and airport facilities across the bi-state St. Louis region, supporting multimodal connectivity and providing global access to shippers and carriers throughout the world,” said Ron Tindall, President of Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA) and Chairman of the Freightway’s Freight Development Committee. “The St. Louis Regional Freightway’s approach to creating a Priority Projects List that identifies key infrastructure projects and advocates for funding for them continues to gain national recognition, most recently being recognized in a joint report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Transportation as a model of partnership and productive collaboration between the public and private sector across the eight county area the St. Louis Regional Freightway serves. It continues to drive the success in regional project prioritization.”
Among the priority projects funded, under construction and on target for completion in late 2023 is the region’s highest priority -- the $222 million project to replace the Merchants Bridge linking Missouri and Illinois in Downtown St. Louis. This vital rail artery across the Mississippi River is one of the nation’s primary east-west rail corridors serving the nation’s third largest rail hub. The $42 million Interstate 255/Davis Street Ferry Road Interchange in St. Clair County in Illinois is scheduled for construction in 2022, and upon completion, has the potential to play a key role in facilitating growth at the Union Pacific intermodal yard in Dupo, Illinois, by reducing travel times and lowering transportation costs for those utilizing one of region’s largest intermodal assets.
Other projects funded and advancing swiftly through engineering include $36 million in improvements to I-64 from Green Mount Road to Illinois Route 158 (Air Mobility Drive) and the $20 million relocation of Illinois Route 158 (Air Mobility Drive) from Illinois Route 161 to Illinois Route 177 – both of which support the growth corridor near MidAmerica St. Louis Airport.
Looking to the highest priority projects partially scheduled for construction, more than $100 million has been allocated for improvement projects on Interstate 70 in Missouri from Wentzville to the Stan Musial Veteran’s Memorial Bridge. Improvements on I-70 from Route 141 to I-170 near the St. Louis Lambert International Airport have been identified as a new high priority project and represent an addition to the 2022 list as part of the overall I-70 project.
The importance of the I-70 investments for the agriculture industry alone is underscored by the same USDA/USDOT report that showcased the Freightway’s approach to project prioritization. The report revealed that agricultural freight is expected to increase 23% over the next 20 years, with the majority moving on just 17 percent of highway mileage, including one corridor that includes I-70 spanning the entire State of Missouri and serving the St. Louis region, which is home to the third largest rail hub in the United States, the third largest inland port as well as the Ag Coast of America.
“I-70 is one of the key highway corridors feeding into all three of those things,” said Tom Blair, MoDOT’s St. Louis District Engineer.
Nearly $600 million in funding has also been approved for the I-270 corridor improvements in north St. Louis County (MO) and Madison County (IL), including the Chain of Rocks Bridge replacement connecting the two states. Meanwhile, both the North Riverfront Commerce Corridor Improvements (MO) and Illinois Route 3 Access Improvements (IL) are now partially funded.
The Priority Projects List is compiled annually by the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s Freight Development Committee. Business and industry leaders work directly with local and state officials and the Illinois DOT and the Missouri DOT to set infrastructure priorities by helping them to understand how infrastructure and efficiency impact on-time delivery and costs. The ongoing regional effort to compile and build consensus for this list remains a key accomplishment of the organization and plays a vital role in helping to ensure various parties are familiar with the priorities before they see them on a grant application.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau Economic Census, freight-based industries represent more than 75 percent of the total economic output in the St. Louis MSA, and Cosmos Corporation of O’Fallon, Missouri, is one of those industries. The company recently expanded its manufacturing, distribution and corporate headquarters with a new $26 million, 200,000 square foot facility from which Cosmos has been serving North America and more than five dozen countries around the world. Having access to reliable infrastructure is essential for Cosmos, which operates in a suburban environment west of St. Louis
“One of the many reasons for Cosmos’ success has been the locational attributes of the St. Louis region,” said Cosmos President and CEO Landon Hobson, who adds that connectivity, infrastructure and resultant accessibility to world markets makes it an ideal region in which to run a global company. “One might think that being in a location interior to the country far from the oceans would be a disadvantage for a company like ours that serves 68 countries around the world. In fact, we have found quite the opposite.”
Mary Lamie, Executive Vice President of Multi Modal Enterprises at Bi-State Development, which oversees the St. Louis Regional Freightway as one of its enterprises, said the list serves an important role in strengthening the region’s infrastructure as the Freightway works to grow the $6 billion in goods moving through the St. Louis area by road, rail, river and runway.
“Our Freight Development Committee continues to work with our many public and private partners to make sure that we understand the needs of our manufacturing and logistics industries and can speak with one voice to ensure all necessary parties are familiar with the region’s infrastructure priorities, understand why they are priorities and can advocate for funding for them,” said Lamie. “Seeing the projects on our list move forward and knowing that our region’s freight network will be stronger as a result is so rewarding and reaffirms that we’re on the right path with our approach.”
The list of 2022 Priority Projects is below, but more details about each of these projects can be found at https://www.thefreightway.com/why-stl-region/priority-infrastructure-projects/. The 2022 Priority Projects List will be submitted to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments for approval later this year. Comments regarding the 2022 list are welcome through August 15 by email at MCLamie@TheFreighway.com.
About St. Louis Regional Freightway
The St. Louis Regional Freightway is a Bi-State Development enterprise formed to create a regional freight district and comprehensive authority for freight operations and opportunities within eight counties in Illinois and Missouri which comprise the St. Louis metropolitan area. Public sector and private industry businesses are partnering with the St. Louis Regional Freightway to establish the bi-state region as one of the premier multimodal freight hubs and distribution centers in the United States through marketing, public advocacy, and freight and infrastructure development. To learn more, visit thefreightway.com.