This guest column was originally published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on March 28, 2018.
By Mary C. Lamie | Guest Columnist, 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…”