Country’s freight nexus is ready to compete for infrastructure projects

By on March 30, 2018

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  The release of President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan has sparked renewed discussion about the vital need to rebuild and modernize our nation’s infrastructure and the role that individual states, local communities and the private sector will have to play in funding that rebuilding.

In the St. Louis region — the country’s freight nexus — those discussions have been underway for some time, and they have resulted in concrete actions that have our metropolitan area well-positioned to compete for whatever federal dollars may be available to help address key infrastructure priorities.

The region’s highest priority, one with national significance, is the replacement of the 128-year-old Merchants Bridge, one of two rail bridges used by six Class I railroads and Amtrak to cross the Mississippi River in St. Louis. Currently, only one train at a time, traveling 5 miles per hour, can cross the bridge, creating a significant rail bottleneck that has impact not just locally, but for the national freight network. Unless addressed, this critical bridge will go out of service in less than 10 years, forcing extensive reroutes and impacting transportation costs to all modes of transportation, as well as the region’s ability to compete in the global market.

In contrast, with a price tag of $200 million, replacement of Merchants Bridge has the potential to greatly improve freight movement in the nation and create more than $456 million in local economic activity over a 20-year period, nearly double the current impact.

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