St. Louis, Kansas City Freight Players Advocate for Funding I-70 Corridor Capacity

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

Just as in St. Louis, Interstate 70 is a vital passageway serving Kansas City, freight movers agree. To that end, they’ve cemented an agreement to work together to support the Missouri Dept. of Transportation’s quest for federal dollars to improve and maintain the busy corridor.

At the culmination of FreightWeekSTL 2022, the St. Louis Regional Freightway and Kansas City SmartPort inked a Memorandum of Understanding to demonstrate their commitment to support improvements to Missouri’s east-west statewide I-70 corridor, a path they say is vital to the global supply chains for many industries including construction. The corridor is identified by MoDOT on its recently released list of high-priority unfunded transportation improvement needs.

Mary Lamie, executive vice president of multi modal enterprises at Bi-State Development and head of the St. Louis Regional Freightway, said public- and private-sector organizations in St. Louis and Kansas City recognize the importance of this stretch of I-70 from a global perspective as a transportation corridor.

“We’re excited to see this placeholder (I-70) on the (high-priority unfunded needs) list, even though it’s a far-off priority at this time,” she said. “This corridor supports the global supply chain for aerospace, automotive, ag industries and others. I-70 provides a critical link to multimodal connectivity and reliability.”

KC SmartPort is a nonprofit economic development organization working to bring companies to Kansas City that are seeking solid, efficient freight connectivity. Its president, Chris Gutierrez, says preliminary engineering work is already occurring for increasing capacity on the outer roads tying into I-70. “All of the civic organizations in and around Kansas City see this as a priority,” he said. “We hope to see movement on right-of-way acquisition and more in the near future. It has to happen to continue bringing manufacturing companies to the region.”

Chester Jones is manager of supply chain operations for O’Fallon-based True Manufacturing Inc., a residential and commercial refrigeration manufacturer that relies heavily on the I-70 corridor. “We often say that I-70 is the true heartbeat of True Manufacturing,” he said. “We traverse I-70 with about 88 trailers per day, and that should increase to about 100 trips daily once our Poplar Bluff plant expansion is completed. Moving freight fluidly to customers is critical.”

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