Merchants Bridge Rehab Could Double Economic Impact

By on April 7, 2017

From St. Louis Business Journal:  A new Merchants Bridge that can handle two modern freight trains at once could create more than $456 million in economic activity over a 20-year period — nearly double the impact today, according to its owner, Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA).

As it stands, the 128-year-old railroad bridge can support only one train at a time, going 5 miles per hour, despite having two tracks. The bridge bears about 32 trains a day, according to a Missouri Department of Transportation report. Together with the nearby MacArthur Bridge, which has 41 trains a day, they represent the highest-volume crossing of all Mississippi River railroad bridges in the country.

“The (Merchants) bridge has to be replaced. It’s far too important to the region,” said Asim Raza, chief legal officer of the TRRA. Its replacement, at a cost of $220 million, is the No. 1 priority of the St. Louis Regional Freightway. Construction could begin at the end of this year and take up to four years.

Raza was part of the Freightway’s St. Louis delegation in late February to the Port of New Orleans, where it signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly market the two group’s assets.

TRRA’s purpose on the trip, Raza said, was to gain insight to a different step of the supply chain and to learn how to make St. Louis’ assets more efficient.

“We’re both trying to better the supply chain… part of the takeaway was to find ways to increase the capacity of products going to New Orleans,” Raza said.

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