The St. Louis Regional Freightway’s 2023 Priority Projects List includes 25 projects representing a total investment of more than $3.8 billion, up from $2.75 billion last year. More than $2 billion of the total covers infrastructure projects that have recently been completed, are already funded and under construction or expected to start in 2022 and 2023, or are programmed to begin within the next few years. The list, which represents the infrastructure needs of the manufacturing and logistics industries in the Eastern Missouri and Southwestern Illinois area, indicates tremendous progress on a range of projects that will strengthen critical roads, bridges, rail infrastructure, and port and airport facilities across the bi-state St. Louis region.
“These projects are supporting multimodal connectivity and providing global access to shippers and carriers throughout the world,” said Asim Raza, who leads the Freight Development and Needs Analysis Committee comprised of public sector influencers and supply chain leaders who represent freight-related interests of the St. Louis region’s business community. Raza is the Chief Legal Officer and Director of Corporate Affairs for the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA).
TRRA owns the Merchants Bridge, one of the nation’s primary east-west rail corridors serving the nation’s second largest rail hub by car interchange volume and third largest by gross tonnage. The $222 million project to replace the Merchants Bridge linking Missouri and Illinois in downtown St. Louis remains the region’s highest infrastructure priority and is a model for public-private partnerships. In Winter 2020, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded TRRA a $22.45 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant toward replacement, while TRRA is providing 90% of the construction costs. The project includes the removal and replacement of the three river-span trusses, seismically retrofitting the existing river piers, and improving the east approach. Two of three newly constructed trusses have already been installed, and the third will be installed later this year. The entire project should be completed in late 2022.
Another significant update for the 2023 list includes $39 million in funding that has been secured for the Interstate 70 (I-70) bottleneck improvements from Wentzville Parkway to Route Z – the number one bottleneck location in the St. Louis region. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2023. The updated 2023 Priority Projects list also has identified the Illinois Route 3 Connector between Illinois Route 3 and Illinois Route 203 as a new priority. The $81.5 million project, which is funded, aims to improve traffic flow and network connectivity within the project area.
Other newly added but currently unfunded projects include an estimated $456 million for Interstate 55/Interstate 70 lane additions from Interstate 255 (I-255) to Interstate 270 (I-270) in Illinois, a high-capacity regional crossroad that spans 10 miles; the $52 million St. Louis Multi-Modal Freight Yard Expansion at Madison Yard (IL), a project focused on expanding railcar capacity by approximately 1,500 cars at Terminal Rail Road Association of St. Louis’ Madison Yard in Venice, Illinois; and a proposed new terminal at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) in St. Louis, the largest and most utilized airport in Missouri.
The list now includes a total of $1.2 billion for projects along I-270, and more $700 million in funding has been approved for the improvements in this corridor in north St. Louis County (MO) and Madison County (IL), including the Chain of Rocks Bridge replacement over the Mississippi River which connects the two states.
A series of projects on I-70 have also been featured in recent years, and that list was expanded to include interchange reconfiguration and safety enhancements on I-70 from the St. Louis city limit to Benton Street. The $168 million project is not yet funded. Another addition on I-70 calls for $27.94 million to add additional capacity from Wentzville Parkway to Warren County, and that unfunded project is included in Tier 3 of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) recently released High Priority Unfunded Needs. In all, more than $500 million in improvements to I-70 are on the list.
While not yet elevated to the status of a new project, the list does include a new partnership between Kansas City and the St. Louis region to highlight the importance of reconstructing and adding capacity to Missouri’s statewide I-70 corridor. The catalyst for the new collaboration is the inclusion of a financial placeholder for the reconstruction of and added capacity on I-70 among MoDOT’s recently released High Priority Unfunded Needs.
For True Manufacturing, Inc. which is headquartered off I-70 in O’Fallon, Missouri, any improvements to I-70 are welcome and will support its continued growth. True Manufacturing has facilities located to the west in Mexico, Missouri, to the south in Pacific, Missouri and to the north in Bowling Green, Missouri, which means 88 trucks per day traverse I-70 traveling between the headquarters facility and its other facilities.
“Our recovery (pandemic) and growth strategies are paramount,” Jones said. “For us, things that continue to support growth and the ease of transit and logistics is key, because we’re rooted here in Missouri. We are contributing to the logistics and the development of manufacturing activities. We’re really on the upswing and we would like to see the infrastructure follow that path as well.”
Several existing projects on the 2023 Priority Projects List also saw modifications to their scope and budgets, contributing to the dramatic 38% increase in the total estimate for projects on the list with a proposed budget.
The Priority Projects List is compiled annually by the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s Freight Development Committee. Business and industry leaders work directly with local and state officials and the Illinois DOT and MoDOT to set infrastructure priorities by helping them to understand how infrastructure and efficiency impact on-time delivery and costs. The ongoing regional effort to compile and build consensus for this list remains a key accomplishment of the organization and plays a vital role in helping to ensure various parties are familiar with the priorities before they see them on a grant application.
Mary Lamie, Executive Vice President of Multi Modal Enterprises at Bi-State Development which oversees the St. Louis Regional Freightway as one of its enterprises, credits the success of the 2023 Priority Projects List to the organization’s Freight Development Committee.
“Our Freight Development Committee work with our many public and private partners to make sure we understand the needs of our manufacturing and logistics industries and can speak with one voice to ensure all necessary parties are familiar with the region’s infrastructure priorities, understand why they are priorities and can advocate for funding for them,” said Lamie. “This list serves an important role in strengthening the region’s infrastructure as the St. Louis Regional Freightway works to grow the $6 billion in goods moving through the St. Louis area by road, rail, river and runway.”
The list of 2023 Priority Projects is included below, but more details about each of these projects can be found at https://www.thefreightway.com/why-stl-region/priority-infrastructure-projects/. The 2023 Priority Projects List will be submitted to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments for approval later this year. Comments regarding the 2023 list are welcome through August 1 by email at MCLamie@TheFreighway.com.
About St. Louis Regional Freightway
The St. Louis Regional Freightway is a Bi-State Development enterprise formed to create a regional freight district and comprehensive authority for freight operations and opportunities within eight counties in Illinois and Missouri which comprise the St. Louis metropolitan area. Public sector and private industry businesses are partnering with the St. Louis Regional Freightway to establish the bi-state region as one of the premier multimodal freight hubs and distribution centers in the United States through marketing, public advocacy, and freight and infrastructure development. To learn more, visit thefreightway.com.
2023 Priority Freight Projects – St. Louis Regional Freightway
Advanced to Construction (Funded)
- Merchants Bridge (TRRA) Replacement over the Mississippi River (MO-IL) $222M
- I-255/Davis Street Ferry Road Interchange (IL) $42M
- Union Pacific Railroad Lenox Tower Replacement and Track Realignment (IL) $19M
- Earth City Access Improvements (MO) $4M (COMPLETED)
- Illinois Route 3 Connector between IL Rte 3 and IL Rte 203 (IL) $81.5M Funded
- J.S. McDonnell Connector Access Improvements (MO) $2.4M (COMPLETED)
- I-64 Improvements from Green Mount Road to Illinois Route 158 (Air Mobility Drive) (IL) $36M
- North Park Access Improvements (MO) $3M (COMPLETED)
- Illinois Route 158 (Air Mobility Drive) Relocation from Route 161 to Route 177 (IL) $20M
Partially Programmed for Construction
- North Riverfront Commerce Corridor Improvements (MO) $34M Partially Funded
- Illinois Route 3 Access Improvements (IL) $300M Partially Funded
- America’s Central Port Intermodal Improvements (IL) $371.2M Partially Funded
- Kaskaskia Regional Port District Improvements (IL) $41M Partially Funded
- I-270 Improvements from I-70 (MO) to Illinois Route 157 (MO-IL) $1.2B
- I-270 from James S. McDonnell Boulevard to Bellefontaine Rd (MO) $278M Funded
- I-270 from Route 367 (Lewis and Clark Boulevard) to Route H (Riverview Dr) (MO) Not Funded
- I-270 Mississippi River Chain of Rocks Bridge Replacement and 6 lanes from the Mississippi River Bridge to the Chain of Rocks Canal on the Illinois side. (MO/IL) $332M Funded
- I-270 6-lane Preliminary Engineering (IL) $3M Funded
- I-270 from Illinois Route 3 to East of St. Thomas Road, includes land acquisition & utility relocations (IL) $76.5M Funded
- Illinois Route 111 at Chain of Rocks Rd, includes construction engineering, land acquisition & utility relocations (IL) $19M Funded
- I-70 Improvements from Wentzville to Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge (MO) $500M
- I-70 Outer Roads Improvements from Fairgrounds Road to Cave Springs Road $62M Funded
- I-70 Interchange Expansion or Improvement Projects $32M Funded
- I-70 Additional Lane from TR Hughes Boulevard to Bryan Road $8M Partially Funded
- I-70 Bottleneck Improvements from Wentzville Parkway to Route Z $39M Funded
- I-70 Improvements from Route 141 to I-170 $178M (Tier 1 and 2*) Not Funded
- I-70 Improvements between Convention Center Boulevard and Missouri Route 370 Not Funded
- I-70/I-64 Interchange Improvements (Concept Development Phase) Not Funded
- I-70 St. Louis City Limit to Benton Street interchange reconfiguration and safety enhancements $168M (Tier 2*) Not Funded
- I-70 Wentzville Parkway to Warren County capacity to be added $27.9M (Tier 3*) Not Funded
- Partnership between Kansas City and the St. Louis region highlights the importance of reconstructing and adding capacity to Missouri’s statewide I-70 corridor (MO Statewide Unfunded Needs*)
- St. Louis Lambert International Airport North Cargo Improvements (MO) $15.2 M
Concept Development or Planning
- I-255/Fish Lake (Ramsey Road) Interchange (IL) $27M
- Mississippi River Port Development Projects (MO) $86.1M
- I-55 Improvements from Route Z to U.S. Route 67 (MO) $212M
- Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA) Tunnel-Arch Riverfront Dewatering (MO) $8.8M
- Terminal Rail Road Association’s St. Louis Multi-Modal Freight Yard Expansion at Madison Yard (IL) $52M
- 1-55/70 lane additions from I-255 to I-270 (IL) $456M
- MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Distribution Improvements (IL) $45M
- St. Louis Lambert International Airport Access Improvements (MO) $30.3M
- New Terminal for St. Louis Lambert International Airport Estimated Cost TBD
Project titles in bold indicate the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s highest priority projects
* Tier level of MoDOT’s high priority unfunded transportation needs