Merchants Bridge

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

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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.

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TRRA Completes Construction & Financing Agreements For Replacment Of Merchants Bridge

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FacebooktwitterlinkedinmailThe Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA) today announced the execution of a Construction Contract for the rebuilding of the company’s Merchants Bridge, including its three Main Spans and the East Approach spanning the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri and Venice, Illinois.  The Merchants Bridge, built in 1889 and opened in 1890, is the oldest rail structure over the Mississippi River.  The project will bring the structure up to current rail standards, adding capacity to the rail system while ensuring the safety and resiliency of the national freight rail network.

TRRA has awarded the $172M project to Walsh Construction Company.  Walsh Construction Company is one of the country’s largest and most respected construction services providers and has been recognized as the nation’s largest bridge builder for the past five consecutive years. The firm has experience in delivering high-profile structures that cross major roadways and waterways, including bridge replacements over the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

“Walsh Construction is honored to partner with the TRRA to replace this historic structure.  We look forward to working with a talented local workforce that includes companies such as St. Louis Bridge Construction Co. to improve this vital freight connection over the Mississippi River” said Walsh’s Senior Project Manager Dan Sieve.

TRRA and Walsh Construction Company have agreed to incorporate subcontracting opportunities for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises as part of the project.

Earlier this month, the TRRA learned that the project was not selected for a federal grant through USDOT’s INFRA program.  The TRRA and its shareholders undertook the difficult decision to fund the Merchants Bridge replacement without federal grant assistance because of the condition of that structure and the adverse impact a non-functioning bridge would have on the nation’s economy.

TRRA is working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in St. Louis, Missouri to finance the rebuilding of the Merchants Bridge. According to John Beardslee, Global Commercial Banking Market Executive, “We are pleased to support TRRA with their important mission of restoring this symbol of our progress and heritage. This is an infrastructure project with national importance, and we are enthusiastic about its positive impact on local economic development and job creation. Along with many others in the St. Louis Region, we look forward to watching the improved Merchants Bridge take shape.”

Development Strategies of St. Louis has estimated that construction of the project will support almost 1,100 jobs in the St. Louis region, including 150 direct jobs.

According to TRRA President Mike McCarthy, “With the execution of this contract with Walsh Construction Company, we can begin the work needed to replace and update this critical link in our rail network that supports the regional and national economies.  We began work on this important project in 2013 and look forward to its completion in 4 years. Modernizing this structure results in benefits for the general railroad network, shippers and the general public.”

The TRRA is a Class III railroad serving 80 industrial customers in the St. Louis region and provides interchange services to Class I railroads serving the East and West Coasts and the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.  These services provide cost efficient transportation options to area businesses and is a critical hub for connecting the St. Louis region to the national and global market place.Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail