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


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.”

St. Louis Regional Freightway Gives Leaders River’s View of Freight Activity, Assets


Leaders from economic development, real estate, logistics and other sectors learned about the St. Louis region’s powerful role as a global freight and logistics hub during an hour-long riverboat tour May 26 as part of FreightWeek STL.

Dubbed the Ag Coast of America, the mighty Mississippi River supports the region’s multimodal freight network, including rail and barge facilities, transfer services, ports, roads and bridges. Within a 15-mile river corridor, the region has 16 barge-transfer facilities handling agriculture and fertilizer products. At total capacity, these can handle more than 150 barges daily, providing the highest level of barge handling capacity anywhere along the Mississippi.

St. Louis Development Corp. Port Director Susan Taylor co-narrated the river tour as guests saw grain being transported by barge. She said 60 percent of grain that’s exported from St. Louis travels down the Mississippi River via barge to New Orleans.

Tour co-narrator and SCF Marine VP of Marketing Rick Barbee noted that with more than 70 miles of river and a 9-foot navigation channel, St. Louis is the third-largest inland port in the U.S.

Tour goers also witnessed barges carrying asphalt and cement as well as barges transporting wheat.

“This tour has been a great opportunity for industry leaders, shippers, carriers, and freight and logistics experts to realize the tremendous importance of these assets,” said Mary Lamie, vice president of Multimodal Enterprises for Bi-State Development and head of the St. Louis Regional Freightway. “We’ve been able to give industry leaders a first-hand look at St. Louis’ freight assets while also making them aware of the abundant career opportunities in freight and logistics.”

River travelers also caught an up-close glimpse of Merchants Bridge, the second-oldest bridge over the Mississippi that is undergoing a $222 million rehabilitation that will be completed in late 2023.