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Freightway – Regional, State and National Infrastructure Planning

Freightway – Regional, State and National Infrastructure Planning
December 14, 2017 Spencer Hallam
St. Louis Regional Freightway

The Freightway’s model for setting infrastructure priorities through public–private partnerships is creating national attention for both the region’s leadership and the national significance of the region’s freight network. This model has two states working together with bi-partisan support for infrastructure funding for projects like the Merchants Bridge. Having the East-West Gateway Council of Governments Board of Directors, which includes the chief elected officials from the City of St. Louis and seven counties in the St. Louis region, unanimously approve the 2017 Freightway Multimodal Project List during the October Board Meeting sends a compelling message of the importance of the public sector partnering with the private sector.

 

“We can’t underestimate the benefits of private sector leaders working with IDOT, MoDOT and East West Gateway as those priorities were identified,” noted Jim Wild, executive director of East West Gateway Council of Governments. “That commitment to collaboration was very instrumental in securing such widespread support from the Board.”

St. Louis Regional Freightway

At the state level, the Freightway is a member of Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Freight Advisory committee and, along with Bi-State Development staff, testified this fall during the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force Hearings and the Missouri Highway Commission Hearings. This involvement helps ensure priority projects, identified in the Freightway’s Multimodal Transportation List, are included with state and national freight strategic planning efforts.

 

Nationally, the USDOT has included the Freightway in mega-region transportation planning discussions for jurisdictions that want to work beyond their boundaries and with other states. Discussions include how to interlock transportation systems like the multi-state I-70 corridor and the role of the Merchants Rail Bridge in supporting Missouri, Illinois and the nation’s freight network.

In addition to building regional, state and national partnerships, through the Freightway’s marketing efforts a series of news releases focused on the region’s ports and barge industry were released in August, resulting in increased national awareness.

 

The “Ag Coast of America” news release (recognizing the region’s ability to deliver the highest level of grain barge handling capacity along the inland waterway) and the most efficient United States inland port system (USACE 2017) release were published in numerous trade publications that included international exposure. The Waterways Journal September edition featured the St. Louis Region’s Port System as the 2017 featured port of the year and spotlighted the “Ag Coast of America.”

 

“These are just a few examples of why the St. Louis region is being invited to the table to determine how and where to allocate national infrastructure funding,” notes America’s Central Port Executive Director Dennis Wilmsmeyer, who chairs the Freightway’s Marketing Committee.  “These ongoing efforts to gain media coverage about the St. Louis region as a premier freight gateway and multimodal hub are critical to the future of St. Louis and the nationwide transportation system.  St. Louis is in the middle of it all.”