St. Louis Regional Freightway

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.”

FreightWeek STL Offers Virtual Opportunity to Learn Latest Industry Innovations


The time is now to register for the St. Louis region’s fifth-annual conference that is central to all things freight.

FreightWeekSTL returns May 23-27 as a virtual event featuring seven engaging virtual discussions focused on the latest trends and innovations influencing worldwide freight movement and highlighting St. Louis’ advantages of global access.

Inland Marine Expo is partnering with St. Louis Regional Freightway in presenting panels of experts speaking on topics including: advances in rail-related innovations such as an autonomous, zero-emissions railcar; the latest information on the collaborative effort to launch container-on-vessel service to the Midwest; APM Terminals’ global operation of one of the world’s most comprehensive port networks; latest technology Union Pacific is deploying to the largest U.S. port complex; details on the significant investments being made at three prominent Midwest ports (offered virtually and also in-person); updates on the new partnership between St. Louis Regional Freightway and KC SmartPort regarding added capacity plans for Missouri’s Interstate 70 corridor; and a briefing on the economic impact of Illinois Route 3 in terms of heavy industrial development.

“We’re anticipating another great event as people join us virtually for FreightWeek STL or take advantage of the flexibility our format offers to catch up on these timely and important topics,” said Mary Lamie, executive vice president of multi-modal enterprises for Bi-State Development, which operates St. Louis Regional Freightway. “We’re committed to presenting some of the most relevant topics in the logistics industry while bringing together forward thinkers who are shaping the future of the freight industry.”

For more information on FreightWeekSTL and to register for sessions, visit

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.

St. Louis Regional Freightway Helps Raise Awareness on Response to a Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack


The St. Louis Regional Freightway welcomed representatives from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the St. Louis Area Regional Response System (STARRS) and the United States Coast Guard in December to raise awareness about preparations for a regional response plan and capstone exercise in the event of a complex coordinated terrorist attack (CCTA) in the bi-state area. This was the focus of The Freightway’s December Industry Forum, and featured discussions on how the region’s multimodal freight network could be impacted in the event of an attack, and the important role it plays in making sure the region is prepared.

On the panel were Dale Chambers, CCTA Grants Manager, St. Louis Area Regional Response System (STARRS); Althea de Guzman, Regional Program Manager, Hagerty Consulting; Nick Gragnani, Executive Director, St. Louis Area Regional Response System (STARRS); Matt Taylor, CCTA Training Coordinator, St. Louis Area Fusion Center, and Captain Scott Stoermer, Commander, Sector Upper Mississippi River, U.S. Coast Guard. Mary Lamie, Executive Director, St. Louis Regional Freightway, led the panel discussion.

Nick Gragnani, Executive Director of the St. Louis Area Regional Response System (STARRS), spoke about the organization’s role in coordination, planning and response for large-scale critical incidents in the bi-state metropolitan region.

“There is now a responsible party out there – whether it’s through a specialty response team, the urban area search and rescue team, the law enforcement tactical operation team or a team embedded within the hospitals right now – there are response units that can take on mass casualty incidents,” said Gragnani.

Althea de Guzman, Regional Program Manager with Hagerty Consulting, serves as the program coordinator for the St. Louis Regional Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack. She spoke about the program and how the region’s multimodal freight infrastructure can play a key role in preparing for an attack.

“The whole purpose of the CCTA program is to design and manage planning, training and exercises for the region,” Guzman said. “We are currently creating operational guides for law enforcement, fire, EMS, command and control and special operation units that include SWAT, bomb and arson. We’ll then get to train and exercise them in actual response drills.”

Guzman noted that her team is being proactive in identifying gaps in the region where more collaboration is needed. One gap she noted is the needs and challenges along the Mississippi River.

This sentiment was echoed by Dale Chambers, the St. Louis region’s program manager for the Preparing Communities for CCTA and Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) grants, who also serves as the coordinator for the regional training and exercise program. “The river creates a whole lot of challenges, and we are relying on everyone to get engaged,” he said. “That could be by providing meeting space, training opportunities or by opening up barges or boats for training exercises.”

One way those challenges are being addressed is through collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard. Captain Scott Stoermer talked about their tactical resource role with advanced counter-terrorism. Stoermer is responsible for Coast Guard operations that include all or parts of 11 states and more than 2,200 miles of commercially navigable waterways on the upper Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers and their tributaries.

“The marine transportation system is a lifeblood for the national economy and, by extension, our national security,” he said. “This discussion of the governance of the marine transportation system is critical because we’re going to double the need for the use of the maritime transportation system in only a few years. The current $4.7 trillion volume of the economy that is pushed through the maritime transportation system is only getting bigger.”

Matt Taylor has been with the St. Louis County Police Department for more than 17 years and is currently assigned to the department’s Intelligence Unit and detached to the St. Louis Fusion Center. One of three in Missouri and 79 across the nation, the St. Louis Fusion Center was born out of the 9/11 Commission to improve communications and prevent terrorism. It analyzes and responds to reports of suspicious activity and other local/national/global intelligence that is collected or reported.

“Our priority is preservation of life and everything we do is based on that principal,” Taylor said. “The biggest way we are able to do this is through our suspicious activity reports. If more people know what a fusion center is and the impact of suspicious activity reports, it’s a win for everyone.”

Lamie reinforced the region’s vital role as a national multimodal freight transportation hub and highlighted how the St. Louis Regional Freightway would help with engagement of both those within the region’s freight industry and local users of the freight network.

“We have companies like Nestle Purina and AB In-Bev, trucking companies, six Class I railroads, our ports, airports and pipelines. There’s no other location along the Mississippi River that has the cluster of barge transfer facilities we have here in the St. Louis region,” Lamie said. “We will make sure that all of these partners know this group wants to work with them and that they need to be a part of this important initiative.”

The December Industry Forum was sponsored by The Southern Illinois Builders Association and Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program.

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. To learn more, visit

St. Louis Regional Freightway Sets Top Transportation Infrastructure Project Funding Priorities


Remarkable Progress Made in First Year to Establish Region as Premier International Freight Hub 

The St. Louis Regional Freightway updated the region on the remarkable progress it has made over the past year toward establishing the bi-state area as a premier freight center and multimodal hub for the nation. The efforts will help ensure the region is prepared to handle projected large increases in freight volume opportunities over the next two decades. The accomplishments were highlighted during the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s second annual Freight Summit on May 10. Since the St. Louis Regional Freightway launched in April 2016, it has made great strides in coordinating with both the public sector and private industry to enhance and grow the $6 billion in goods traveling through the St. Louis area by rail, road, river, and runway, while also laying the groundwork to ensure the region’s infrastructure can handle the growth.

“We launched The Freightway with a mission to market our region to the world as a premier freight hub and logistics center, a destination for new business and manufacturing, and a multimodal transportation nexus for the nation,” said John Nations, Bi-State Development President and Chief Executive Officer. “The first-year results have exceeded our expectations for what we thought would be accomplished during the first year in business.” The St. Louis Regional Freightway is one of five enterprises operated by Bi-State Development.

Mary Lamie, Executive Director of the St. Louis Regional Freightway said unprecedented regional support and partnerships have been a key factor in the success. The Freightway represents eight counties in two states, the public sector and private industry, and all segments of the supply chain. While this large number of stakeholders with unique needs and concerns could be seen as an impediment, Lamie sees this diverse group of stakeholders as a major asset with a depth of expertise and experience that could be harnessed toward the common goal of advancing the region’s position as a leader in freight and transportation.

Lamie also pointed to The Freightway’s ability to forge and strengthen relationships with freight partners throughout America’s heartland and to the Gulf of Mexico, as a key accomplishment during its first year. These efforts have produced new and stronger partnerships in Kansas City, Memphis, Minneapolis, Chicago and most notably the Port of New Orleans. The St. Louis Regional Freightway signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Port of New Orleans earlier this year to grow trade and build upon existing and new business relationships between the two regions and critical ports on the Mississippi River.

“These efforts have created a strong foundation for us to advance our container-on-barge capabilities and reach out beyond the nation’s core to establish relationships with coastal ports,” said Lamie.

Mike McCarthy, Chairman of the Freight Development Committee, cited The Freightway’s ability to develop and build consensus around a list of 20 priority projects necessary to modernize the region’s freight infrastructure as a key accomplishment over the last year. The list has unanimous regional approval and the backing of both the Missouri and Illinois congressional delegations, which has vaulted regional priorities into national priorities. McCarthy is the president of Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA) of St. Louis.

“Representing the infrastructure needs of the manufacturing and logistics industries, the multimodal transportation priority list is a critical tool for both the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Missouri Department of Transportation, and for elected leaders to better understand what is needed in order to advocate funding for infrastructure dollars,” said McCarthy.

Topping the list of projects aimed at improving the multimodal transportation network is the replacement of the 127-year-old Merchants Bridge, which is one of two rail bridges used by six Class I railroads and Amtrak to cross the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. Improving Interstate 270 from Lindbergh Boulevard in Missouri to Route 111 in Illinois, including replacing the Chain of Rocks Bridge, is another priority project that focused on improving the region’s transportation network.

The top projects identified as priorities for improving access to the region’s multimodal network are the North Riverfront Corridor Improvements, including Hall Street, Branch Street and the Municipal River Terminal rail access; along with Illinois Route 3 Improvements, which include widening Route 3 from East St. Louis to Sauget, Illinois, and the Falling Springs Road Alton & Southern Railroad bypass. The Freightway is committed to working collaboratively with public and private sector leaders to help validate these and other multimodal transportation needs and explore funding opportunities for efficient, reliable cost-effective and safe delivery of freight movement that the St. Louis region and the nation depends on to compete globally.

“While building relationships and building support for our infrastructure priorities are at the heart of the  efforts to advance the bi-state area as a premier transportation and logistics hub, actively marketing the region’s manufacturing and logistics advantages is another,” Lamie said. For the past year, the Marketing Committee, led by Chairman Dennis Wilmsmeyer, has focused on developing and implementing marketing plans to promote the St. Louis region to new freight markets and customer bases, leveraging relationships with shippers and carriers and spotlighting the region’s top industrial real estate sites. Wilmsmeyer is the Executive Director of America’s Central Port.

“These marketing efforts, which are receiving prominent exposure and media attention locally and nationally, are vital as The Freightway works with manufacturing and logistics industry decision makers and industrial real estate planners,” said Wilmsmeyer. “As we gain national and global recognition as premier freight hub, we’re building a team of ambassadors to help draw even more attention to our strategic location and benefits.”

Matthew K. Rose, Executive Chairman of BNSF Railway, was the special guest speaker for the annual event. With responsibility for one of the nation’s largest freight railroad networks in North America, encompassing 32,500 miles of rail in 28 states across the western two-thirds of the United States and three Canadian provinces, Rose’s remarks underscored the critical role played by transportation, and particularly the railroads, in supporting the freight economy.

“As a country, we should want more freight on the railroads, not less,” Rose said. As he emphasized the various environmental, time and cost benefits associated with rail transport, he said, “I like to refer to the U.S. supply chain as a weapon of mass competitiveness.” Rose said that competiveness can be further enhanced by public-private investment in projects such as the replacement of the Merchants Bridge, which would support increased capacity and growth.

“Growth in a region’s economy is rarely by accident, or simply because of the natural assets or advantages a region has; it takes work. Here in St. Louis you understand that, and you’re working together,” said Rose.

The first video in a series of short videos highlighting the region’s competitive advantages debuted at the Freight Summit, with the others set to be unveiled in the coming months. The entire series will be available at, the website launched last year as the gateway for businesses and site selectors to locate key contacts, real estate opportunities and regional logistics capabilities.

Moving forward, The Freightway’s goals include ongoing efforts to create a platform that takes advantage of the unprecedented increase in the nation’s freight activity over the next 30 years. The team will continue to build relationships with coastal ports and to promote the St. Louis region’s container-on-barge capabilities. Marketing efforts will keep the focus on the bi-state area’s freight assets including six Class I railroads, four interstate highways, two international cargo airports, and the third largest inland port. Details also are being finalized for a bi-state familiarization tour for site selectors to further showcase the St. Louis region’s competitive logistics advantages.

The Presenting Sponsor for the Second Annual Freight Summit was BNSF Railway, with Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA) and Bi-State Development serving as Networking Sponsors. Supporting Sponsors included Ameren, America’s Central Port, DNJ Intermodal Services, LLC, St. Louis Lambert International Airport, The Jerry Costello Group, LLC, The Regional Business Council, TranSystems and Werremeyer.

To learn more about the St. Louis Regional Freightway and to view the complete list of 2017 Multimodal Transportation Projects, visit

Established in 2014 as an enterprise of Bi-State Development, the St. Louis Regional Freightway is a freight district and comprehensive authority for freight operations and opportunities within eight counties in Illinois and Missouri that comprise the St. Louis metropolitan area. 

Port Official from New Orleans Highlights Economic Growth Opportunities for St. Louis Region


Groundwork laid for Memorandum of Understanding between Port of New Orleans and St. Louis

Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Gary LaGrange & Mary Lamie
Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Gary LaGrange & Mary Lamie

Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange joined Bi-State Development and the St. Louis Regional Freightway to host an insightful forum that called attention to the tremendous economic growth opportunities for the St. Louis region through the Inland Port System.  More than 70 of the St. Louis region’s leading manufacturers, shippers, logistic experts and economic development professionals were on hand on September 28 to hear from LaGrange. He has been at the helm of the Port of New Orleans since 2001 helping to position it as the number one port for logistics in America and the fastest growing U.S. port for container on barge shipments.

St. Louis Regional Freightway Executive Director Mary Lamie opened the forum by noting the purpose of the event was to learn. “We are thrilled to have Gary here today to learn how we can best coordinate his supply chain with our supply chain.” The information shared during the forum revealed the desire for increased coordination is mutual, and would be mutually beneficial.

LaGrange’s leadership brought the Port of New Orleans back into operation only two weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 to become the most extensive natural disaster in U.S. history to date. Also, under LaGrange’s direction, the Port of New Orleans has made great expansions in spite of great adversity—including opening new, state-of-the art container, cruise and refrigerated terminals. Over the past decade, a total of $500 million has been invested in the Port of New Orleans, and it today is responsible for 165,000 jobs in the state of Louisiana, and a total of 380,000 jobs in the U.S. While he has championed the port’s growth, LaGrange made it clear the growth at his port, and future growth around freight movement through the ports in the bi-state region, are already intrinsically connected. “The St. Louis region is the envy of the barge industry. Located in the heart of the nation and strategically positioned at the northernmost ice-free and lock-free point on the Mississippi River,” LaGrange said.

“Five-hundred million tons of cargo move through our port because of you,” LaGrange said. “We are the largest single port system in the world. Out of nearly 400 ports in the United States, we’re the only single port that has the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which combined offer 14,500 miles of navigable waterways.”

He noted those waterways are already being well utilized, but it is often to transport empty containers. LaGrange said 50 percent of the barge containers that travel from St. Louis down the Mississippi River to New Orleans are empty before they are either reloaded with cargo at New Orleans or shipped empty.

While they still want and need some empty containers, there are growing opportunities for more of them to be loaded in the St. Louis region and upriver regions with fertilizers, phosphates, animal foods and other products that there is growing demand for overseas.

LaGrange said 80 percent of the product coming into the Port of New Orleans is ultimately bound for the St. Louis region or the Midwest. But the products do not always travel directly up the Mississippi River to get to their destinations. He cited for example, the Port of New Orleans is the nation’s largest importer of rubber, but the St. Louis region gets its rubber from the East Coast instead of having it come directly from the Port of New Orleans. And while automobile manufacturing plants currently have parts shipped in by rail from the East Coast to Missouri, there is no reason those products could not be transported by water, rail or truck from the Port of New Orleans.

Largely in response to consumer demand for various products, the Port of New Orleans saw a 16.7 percent growth in container cargo traffic just last year, and that growth is expected to continue. Fifteen to 18 percent of the growth from the Panama Canal expansion alone is expected to come through the gulf ports, including Port of New Orleans, and LaGrange estimates that could translate to a total of 5 million new TEUs* for the gulf ports.  And LaGrange notes that with the potential for an all water route to and from Asia through the Panama Canal directly into New Orleans, their container on barge growth opportunities could be unlimited. There’s no question that growth at the Port of New Orleans can trigger growth on the inland waterways here in the St. Louis region. To capitalize on that growth, LaGrange stated that the St. Louis region needs to “Go beyond thinking outside the box, to actually creating a new box.”

Colin Wellenkamp, executive director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, also spoke at the event, and he saluted the St. Louis Regional Freightway and its executive director Mary Lamie for doing exactly what LaGrange was advocating. “What Mary is doing is unique. I’m responsible for 10 states and we don’t see what you are doing anywhere else,” said Wellenkamp, who added that while other cities and towns along the Mississippi River may not be engaging to grow their freight industries in the same way the St. Louis region is, they are paying attention to the St. Louis Regional Freightway is doing.

Aimee Anders, executive director of the Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals, Inc., the trade association for the nation’s inland waterway, port and terminal professionals, was also on hand to share her insight with the group. “The collaborative partnerships here really enhance the St. louis region’s ability to move freight for the entire nation,” she said.

Among the ideas discussed to foster even greater collaboration and really leverage the connection between the Port of New Orleans and the St. Louis region is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two entities. Lamie and LaGrange will be regrouping in short order to hammer out the details of what such an understanding would look like, but they concurred that it must include measurable deliverables for both parties, and that branding and jointly marketing the St. Louis region’s multimodal assets, the Port of New Orleans multimodal assets and the St. Louis region’s direct connection to the Port of New Orleans, should be key components.  Among the assets the St. Louis region offers are six Class I railroads with international market access (the same six that also operate at Port of New Orleans), the third largest inland port, two international cargo airports and four interstates that provide national access.

John Nations, president and CEO of Bi-State Development, took a few moments to comment on the significance of the forum, its attendees and the work being spearheaded by the St. Louis Regional Freightway, the newest Bi-State Development enterprise.  “We have the best of St. Louis region represented here today,” he said. “The St. Louis Regional Freightway is a great example of good cooperation for real progress.”

Dennis Wilmsmeyer, executive director of America’s Central Port, which was the presenting sponsor of the forum along with supporting sponsor Ingram Barge, urged the crowd to embrace its role as ambassadors. “All of you sitting here are ambassadors for this region and this effort,” he said. “It is all of our responsibilities to talk about the great things that are happening here.” 

Bi-State Development (BSD) operates the St. Louis Regional Freightway, the region’s freight district, and operates Bi-State Development Research Institute. BSD is the operator of the Metro public transportation system for the St. Louis region, which includes the 87 vehicle, 46-mile MetroLink light rail system; 391 MetroBus vehicle fleet that operates on 77 MetroBus routes; and Metro Call-A-Ride, a paratransit fleet of 120 vans. BSD also owns and operates St. Louis Downtown Airport and the Gateway Arch Riverboats, as well as operates the Gateway Arch Revenue Collections Center and Gateway Arch trams. 

*Note: The twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) is based on the volume of a 20-foot-long (6.1 m) intermodal container, a standard-sized metal box which can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains and trucks. 

Photo Above: Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Gary LaGrange & Mary Lamie