2020 Infrastructure Priority List Indicates More Than 1/3 of Projects Have Advanced to Construction

2020 Infrastructure Priority List Indicates More Than 1/3 of Projects Have Advanced to Construction
October 31, 2019 Jerry Vallely

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG) Board of Directors last week unanimously endorsed the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s 2020 Multimodal Transportation Priority Projects List, a valuable tool used by the St. Louis Regional Freightway to advocate for support and funding for infrastructure improvements.  The St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), generated 384 million tons of freight in 20161, ranking it first among Midwest peer cities along the Mississippi River Basin and highlighting the importance of investment to modernize the region’s freight infrastructure. Representing the infrastructure needs of the manufacturing and logistics industries, the updated list for 2020 reveals that eight of the 20 projects on the list have advanced to various stages of construction. Collectively, those eight projects represent an investment of more than three quarters of a billion dollars in the region’s freight network, with an emphasis on enhancing key bridges and interstates utilized by the trucking industry, which moves more than 200 million tons of freight through the region annually2.

“Each of the priority projects identified on the 2020 list is important at the individual level, but collectively, they are essential to the continued growth of the St. Louis region as a global freight hub,” said Jim Wild, Executive Director of East-West Gateway Council of Governments. “I salute our Board of Directors for their bi-state leadership in recognizing the benefits of having a priority list like this and uniting in support of it.”

“The Freightway’s ability to continue to build consensus around the top transportation infrastructure priorities remains a key accomplishment of the organization as it works to grow the $6 billion in goods traveling through the St. Louis area by road, rail, river and runway,” said Mike McCarthy, president of Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA) of St. Louis and Chairman of the Freight Development Committee, which compiles the priority projects list annually. “With more than 50% of all freight volume generated in the St. Louis region moving by truck, and 25% of it moving internally3 putting additional stress on our region’s roads and bridges, it’s clear the priority projects on this list truly reflect the real needs of the bi-state area.”

Among the priority projects funded and under construction are the Interstate 270 corridor improvements in north St. Louis County (MO) and Madison County (IL); where nearly $500 million is being invested; the $59 million Interstate 255/Davis Street Ferry Road Interchange in St. Clair County in Illinois, which was elevated to one of the Freightway’s highest priority projects over the winter based on the growing importance of Union Pacific’s intermodal yard and the role the new interchange would play in facilitating growth there by reducing travel times and lowering transportation costs; and the $32 million project to widen a key stretch of Interstate 64, also in St. Clair County. A combination of state and federal funding is supporting these and various other projects on the list. Meanwhile, work is also underway on the $175 million project to replace the Merchants Bridge, thanks to funding from Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, which owns the structure.

The Freight Development Committee is a nationally recognized model of partnership and productive collaboration between the public and private sector across the eight-county area the St. Louis Regional Freightway serves, and it has driven the success in regional project prioritization. Business and industry leaders work directly with local and state officials and DOT’s to set infrastructure priorities by helping them to understand how infrastructure and efficiency impacts on-time delivery and costs.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Economic Census, freight-based industries represent over 75% of the total economic output in the St. Louis MSA. Located at the confluence of three navigable rivers, the border between the east and west coast railroads, and with its four interstate highways and four interstate linkages, the St. Louis region’s central location and robust infrastructure afford many advantages for shippers and contribute to the region being one of the largest inland freight hubs in the nation. The 384 million tons of freight generated in the St. Louis MSA in 2016 exceeded the tonnage generated in peer cities such as Minneapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Columbus.

“Our leadership position in the freight industry further underscores the importance of maintaining and enhancing our freight network,” said Mary Lamie, Executive Vice President of Multi Modal Enterprises at Bi-State Development, which oversees the St. Louis Regional Freightway as one its enterprises. “We greatly value the East-West Gateway Council of Government’s unanimous endorsement of what we have identified as the region’s current infrastructure improvement priorities, because that regional support is helping to ensure these priority projects do move forward. We will continue to use this valuable tool as we advocate for the funding necessary to advance other projects on the list in the months ahead.”

The updated list groups the projects into three categories, based on where they are in the planning, funding and construction cycle. Following is a summary of the 2020 priority projects, with the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s highest priorities underlined.

Advanced to Construction (Funded)

  • Merchants Bridge (TRRA) Replacement over the Mississippi River (MO-IL). ($175M) Funded by TRRA in summer 2018. Replacement of Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis’ 130-year old rail bridge.
  • I-270 Improvements from I-70 (MO) to Illinois Route 157 (MO-IL). Funded spring 2018.
    • Improvements to portions of I-270 in Missouri ($250M)
    • Chain of Rocks Bridge Replacement ($211.6M)
    • I-270/Illinois Route 111 Interchange Reconstruction (IL) ($19M)
  • I-255/Davis Street Ferry Road Interchange (IL) ($59M) Funded in 2019.
    • New interchange and connecting roadways to serve emerging industrial area near Union Pacific Dupo Intermodal Yard, including future grade separation over five rail tracks.
  • I-64 Improvements from Green Mount Rd to IL 158/Air Mobility Dr (IL) ($32M) Funded in summer of 2019.  Expansion of I-64 to six lanes as well as other safety and capacity improvements.
  • J.S. McDonnell Connector Ave. Improvements (MO) ($20.7M) Construction funding approved in 2019. Roadway improvements to enhance truck traffic movements and replace deteriorated rail crossing.
  • Union Pacific Railroad Lenox Tower Replacement (IL) ($9M) Funded in spring 2018 and spring 2019.
    • Remove Lenox Rail Tower in Mitchell, Illinois in order to centralize dispatching in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • North Park Access Improvements (MO) ($3M) Funded in 2018.
    • Safety and capacity improvements along Hanley Road from I-70 to Madison Avenue.
  • Earth City Access Improvements (MO) $4M – Construction work is nearing completion on two projects:
    • St. Charles Rock Road preservation of 1.3-mile corridor and arterial roadway pavement repairs in Earth City.

Partially Programmed for Construction

  • I-270 Widening from I-70 (MO) to Illinois Route 157 (MO-IL) ($1.2B) – This project is partially funded and portions that are funded are identified above.
  • North Riverfront Commerce Corridor Improvements (MO) ($33.9M) – Continuing project will build on work completed to relocate the I-70 westbound off-ramp to North Broadway by making additional improvements to Hall Street and Riverview Drive, as well as Branch Street.
  • Illinois Route 3 Access Improvements (IL) (Estimated $147-$192M; Unfunded $135 – $180M)
    • (A) Illinois Route 3 relocation from River Park Drive to Monsanto Avenue
    • (B) Falling Springs Road/Illinois Route 3 railroad bypass (Partially Funded)
  • America’s Central Port Improvements (IL) (Estimated cost $22.5M; Unfunded $12.5M)
    • (A) Granite City Harbor track revitalization
    • (B) Granite City Harbor general cargo dock revitalization (Funded)
    • (C) Union Pacific/Kansas City Southern connection through A&K yard
    • (D) New port entrance at IL-3 (Funded)
  • St. Louis Lambert International Airport North Cargo Improvements (MO) ($18.2M) Although Taxiway V Connector was completed, North Cargo improvements include reconstructing both Banshee Road and the McDonnell Boulevard/Airport Road intersection

Concept Development or Planning

  • I-70 Improvements from Warrenton to Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge (MO) ($650M)
    • (A) Improvements from Wentzville to Stan Musial Memorial Bridge (40 miles)
    • (B) Expansion to six lanes from Wentzville to Warrenton (20 miles)
  • MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Distribution Improvements (IL) ($45M)
    • New two-mile rail spur from Norfolk Southern mainline to enable freight rail access for industry on the eastern side of airport
  • St. Louis Lambert International Airport Access Improvements (MO) ($30.25M)
    • (A) Cargo City access analysis
    • (B) Fee Fee Road bridge improvement
    • (C) Gist Road upgrade
  • Illinois Route 158 (Air Mobility Drive) Expansion from Route 161 to Route 177 (IL) ($20M) – One-mile extension of two lanes along a growth corridor near I-64 and MidAmerica St. Louis Airport
  • Kaskaskia Regional Port District Improvements (IL) ($11.8M)
    • (A) Terminal #1 second rail loop track and lead track rail upgrades
    • (B) Terminal #2 second entrance and third dock
    • (C) Port Development at Fayetteville
  • I-255/Fish Lake (Ramsey Road) Interchange (IL) ($27M)
    • New interchange to provide additional access to the Union Pacific Dupo Intermodal Yard
  • Mississippi River Port Development Projects (MO) ($17.5M)
    • (A) Crystal City Port development with access roadway
    • (B) City of St. Louis south riverfront site
    • (C) St. Louis County Port development north/south sites

Note: On October 21, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the Illinois Department of Transportation’s annual Multi-Year Improvement Program, containing $215 million in additional funding for several other projects on this Priority List, including:

  • $20M for I-270 to add a lane from Mississippi River to the Chain of Rocks Canal
  • $64.5M for I-270 from .4 mile E of IL 3 to .5 miles W of IL 203 for additional lanes and bridge superstructure
  • $15M for IL-111 at Chain of Rock intersection
  • $115M for Relocated IL Route 3 from .1 mil south of River Park Connector to Monsanto Ave. in Sauget
  • $5M for IL Route 3 South for a bridge over the Alton & Southern Railroad tracks in Sauget.
  • $20M for IL Route 158 (Air Mobility Drive) expansion from Route 161 to Route 177 (IL).

Project funding from this announcement will be reflected in the 2021 Multimodal Project List.

(1) United States Department of Transportation Freight Analysis Framework (FAF4), 2016
(2) United States Department of Transportation Freight Analysis Framework (FAF4), 2016.
(3) United States Department of Transportation Freight Analysis Framework (FAF4), 2016.