By Steve Rensberry, Editor
It’s no secret that one of our area’s economic strengths is its location and utility as a transportation hub, being situated roughly in the middle of the continental United States. One organization that realizes this is the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG), which gave notice last week that it had endorsed the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s 2020 Multimodal Transportation Priority Projects List. The short of it: Of the 20 projects on the list, eight of them — worth a collective $830 million — are currently in various stage of construction. The Metro East is a clear beneficiary, starting with significant Interstate 270 corridor improvements.
As stated in a press release from the Hauser Group: “Among the priority projects funded and under construction are the Interstate 270 corridor improvements in north St. Louis County (MO) and Madison County (IL); where nearly $500 million is being invested; the $59 million Interstate 255/Davis Street Ferry Road Interchange in St. Clair County in Illinois, which was elevated to one of the Freightway’s highest priority projects over the winter based on the growing importance of Union Pacific’s intermodal yard and the role the new interchange would play in facilitating growth there by reducing travel times and lowering transportation costs; and the $32 million project to widen a key stretch of Interstate 64, also in St. Clair County. A combination of state and federal funding is supporting these and various other projects on the list. Meanwhile, work is also underway on the $222 million project to replace the Merchants Bridge, thanks to funding from Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, which owns the structure.”
Some interesting facts: More than 75 percent of the total economic output in the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) comes from “freight-based industries” (U.S. Census Bureau Economic Census ); and more than 50 percent of all freight volume generated in the St. Louis region is moved by truck. (Terminal Railroad Association President Mike McCarthy). Approximately 384 million tons of freight were generated in the St. Louis MSA in 2016.