Public-Private Partnership Rebuilds East St. Louis Riverfront for More Development

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By KERRY SMITH, Editor, St. Louis Construction News & Review Magazine 

A two-phase, $17 million heavy roadway and water line replacement project along the East St. Louis riverfront is complete, opening up and equipping more than 200 acres for commercial and industrial development.

The project – funded by three levels of government and numerous private industry partners under the direction of St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern – has transformed what was a badly deteriorated span of roadways into infrastructure that can now easily carry trucks including those bound for agricultural giant Cargill in East St. Louis and Fairmount City-based Bunge-SCF Grain.

“Ag is one of the biggest exports of our region,” said St. Clair County Highway Engineer Norm Etling. “If these roadways would have continued to deteriorate, the access would have been severely restricted. Now there’s a continuous road system from I-70 and rebuilt Illinois Route 3, with a new ramp leading to Front Street All that is new infrastructure that provides excellent access to I-64/I-70 and is ready for significant new development.”

Baxmeyer Construction in Waterloo built the thoroughfares that were engineered by Swansea-based Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen Inc.

Baxmeyer Project Manager Josh Froese said Phase I included completely rebuilding Front Street from the Illinois American Water treatment plant on the far north end (just south of I-70) to Trendley Avenue, roughly 1.5 miles south. “We reconstructed the road with 10.5 inches of concrete pavement, 30 feet wide and strong enough to carry heavy truckloads,” said Froese.

TWM Project Manager Josh Stein said the roadway’s close proximity to the Mississippi River, just a few dozen feet east, added to the project’s complexity and included reestablishing drainage patterns. “Reconstructing a major industrial roadway this close to the levee system required close coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” he said. “Redesigning a somewhat confusing traffic pattern running past the Casino Queen (at River Park Drive and B Street) into a roundabout that is much easier to comprehend was a key objective of the project,” Stein said.

Casino Queen, one of the project’s private-sector partners, contributed $500,000 toward the cost. Cargill and Bunge – SCF Grain each provided $500,000. American Water Company supplied and installed three miles of large-diameter water mains totaling $9 million. Public-sector project partners included the U.S. Economic Development Administration ($3.5 million), Illinois Department of Transportation’s Truck Access Route Program ($125,000), Southwestern Illinois Development Authority ($1.5 million), St. Clair County Transit District ($900,000) and Metro East Park and Recreation District ($500,000).

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