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