The St. Louis Regional Freightway

All the ways we move people and things: trains, planes, automobiles, biking, walking, etc.
Few years ago the state (MoDOT) and region too did a freight study. One of the recommendations was to establish a freight district to be the clearing house for freight in the region since a lot of the industry complained that stl had great potential but too many agencies to deal with. So the freighway was established under Bi-State, since they already had charter in MO and ILL

Today was launch day for the district and with it comes a project list to help improve freight movement. ... ntPlan.pdf
dblnSouthcity, do you know if Bi-state or any other agency was able to get in a FY16 fastlane grant app under the new Fast Transportation act? $800 million available for FY16 The rail bridge project seems ready made for fastlane grant. Believe it was also part of a MoDOT high speed rail application with some funding backed by the railroads at one point.

FASTLANE grants, authorized by the FAST Act’s Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program, will fund small and large projects, based on project size, that meet statutory requirements. Large projects (equal to the lesser of $100 million or a certain specified statutory percentage of the project state’s FY 2015 apportionment) are eligible for a minimum award of $25 million. Small projects, which consist of projects below the minimum large project size threshold, are eligible for a minimum award of $5 million.

The NSFHP program is authorized at $4.5 billion through 2020. Applications for FY 2016 are due on April 14, 2016. The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is available HERE.
- See more at: ... PlxqQ.dpuf
MoDOT/TRRA is applying for a $75M FASTLANE Grant for the Merchants Bridge...(rest of the $ will come from railroads/TRRA Bonds, about $130M) decision on those will be July-ish, applications are due to today for those and TIGER. and yes these seems like a very good candidate, but I'm not sure if they will get the entire $75M..if it works like TIGER, they can expect about 40-50
It's great metro St. Louis is organizing its distribution assets and expertise together in order to promote the region's distribution assets and infrastructure. It's way past due.

Link: The St. Louis Regional Freightway

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Not sure if there's a thread about port facilities, barge traffic and all topics relating to improvement of river transport...

Port of St. Louis, America's Central Port and other Mississippi river towns looking to build infrastructure for shipping containers on barges. I remember this chatter from about five years ago or so. Would love to see a harbor with cranes and shipping containers.
I'm curious what companies that use containers would prefer them moving by barge as opposed to rail. First thought is rail seems quicker and more efficient.

But, there obviously is a market for it, and it's encouraging to see area leaders focusing on it. Logistics perhaps isn't the sexiest industry, but St. Louis is set up like few cities to be a leader in it and it's been neglected for too long.

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This is an economic segment that has been neglected here when it really could be a good anchor of the local economy due to being placed very well geographically for it.

As for barge over rail, some of that could be due to railroad bottlenecks in certain areas, especially the Chicago area. One observation I have noticed is seeing barges much more regularly going up and down the Missouri River this past year, when before I have rarely seen it. You have several navigable waterways meet here in the Mississippi and Missouri River systems and the Illinois River which connects via canals to the Great Lakes. Also the Ohio/Tennessee Rivers aren't too far downstream.
Here's the BND article on the topic:

I think it does a better job going in-depth of explaining what exactly this means and how it would actually work.
Does the new wider Panama Canal make the river a much bigger player for Asian markets? The piece says this experiment would ship grain by boat to Asia, rather than current by-train transport via the West Coast.
Does the new wider Panama Canal make the river a much bigger player for Asian markets? The piece says this experiment would ship grain by boat to Asia, rather than current by-train transport via the West Coast.
It's a good question but I would assume that's not a huge factor. I think the bigger boon from the Panama Canal would go to deep water ports (I know they're talking it up big here in Hampton Roads) that would allow them to attract some more of the major Asian traffic. But it's not like container ships weren't already going through Panama.

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gary kreie wrote:
Does the new wider Panama Canal make the river a much bigger player for Asian markets? The piece says this experiment would ship grain by boat to Asia, rather than current by-train transport via the West Coast.

Like Shimmy noted, I don't think the panama canal expansion will not be much of a factor at all as far as Mississippi is concerned. The only thing I can see is that bulk freighters are so plentiful and day rates are so cheap that if one is big & can get through the canal it might be competitive price wise for northern/upper midwest grain traffic bound for Asia. But at same time agriculture commodities go up and down by a host of factors so it might be their one day and gone to the next. The plus side for St. Louis is that has a lock free/almost always ice free ride to the gulf and would be and is the logical place to get on barge and then to a bulk carrier.

As far as containers. the big problem for Mississippi is that Port of New Orleans is a significant trek up river from the gulf and in terms of draft is far behind a lot of ports as well as infrastructure, whether it be nearby Houston nearby or the explosion of container traffic through Savannah with a channel being deepened at the moment. Not too mention that the Mighty Mississippi brings down a lot of sediments and its a constant battle to keep its ship channel from being draft restricted and therefore reducing competitive capacity even more. In the meantime, both the Port of Long Beach and Port of Oakland have now expected container ships too big for even the new Panama Canal Locks. West Coast ports & UP/BNSF have no desire to give up traffic to East Coast Ports & CSX/NS
There is, for the record, an intracoastal waterway that runs from New Orleans at least as far as Houston. (And probably all the way to Miami, and maybe New York, the way these things link together. Or perhaps even Montreal. It's a silly lacework of canals along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Seaboard.) Now, I don't know what kind of capacity they have, but if the demand were there they could be expanded. You can get barges from St. Louis to Houston without need of a deep draft vessel. You might very well have to go through New Orleans to do it, which adds time and effort to your trip. But you can do it. It's a maze of little rivers and canals all over down there. Enough of a maze that people get lost and go where they shouldn't sometimes. (And bad things happen.) So the rivers are actually lit and signed for navigation.
^The Great Loop is for pleasure crafts but uses many of the same routes as the commercial shipping vessels.

I had a former instructor who's plan after retirement was to take his house boat and sail that route, stopping at a new dock each night. Just had to convince the wife first.

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That last part is often a thorn in the best laid journey plans. *sigh* On the other hand, there are so many other things that work better thanks to our partners, so . . . you take the modest frictions with the many great improvements.
I don't much details to add but Biz Journal article on Merchant Bridge. Hopefully something can happen one of these days. Talk about a no frills relative unknown bridge to the region but important infrastructure to keep the region competitive and supports its geographical advantage for handling goods. Also one of those projects that TRRA could probably setup an internal toll/financing mechanism to oblige the current political environment ... nomic.html
TRRA already charges tolls to use the current bridges. And they always have. No train has ever crossed the Missisippi in St. Louis without paying someone. (TRRA, MB&TRR, City of StL, Wiggins Ferry, etc.) Of course, TRRA is actually charging their owners, for the most part, as they're essentially a co-op of the various railroads that serve the area. And those tolls have been a part of the local decline as a RR hub. (Rather like the landing fees at the airport.) None of the railroads really have much interest in helping the competition. They've mostly got bridges of their own elsewhere. TRRA will build a new bridge . . . eventually. But if they have to completely self fund, you can bet it will be a while and that more and more traffic will shift to less expensive crossings further north. (Does that sound familiar? It should. It's a VERY old story.)
Pretty good, in-depth article on the freightway. It discusses the Merchants Bridge proposal, as well as Chain of Rocks. ... priorities

Saw this article posted on the Lambert International thread. The article is just as relevant to the region's increased freight efforts.

More and heavier charters add to STL’s bright cargo prospects
By: AJOT | Oct 03 2017 at 08:26 AM | Air Cargo


St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) has experienced a boom in cargo charter activity in 2017.

For the year to date, the airport has witnessed a 30% increase in freight charters, compared with the same period in 2016. The average weight of cargo on flights has increased almost four-fold to 45,982 lbs (20,857 kgs).

In September, the airport also saw its two heaviest charter movements in some years: 216,681 lbs (98,264 kgs) and 233,000 lbs (105,665 kgs), uplifted by 747-8F aircraft operated by AirBridge Cargo; these were the first ever operations into STL by the 747-8F. STL also recently saw the first visit to the airport of the An-124 in 5 years.

The mainstay of the charter flights has been the region’s thriving automotive and aerospace industries.

Says STL Cargo Development Director David Lancaster: “The recent growth in total charter tonnage, the regular appearance of larger aircraft and the heavier loads being carried all point to a growing recognition of the benefits of using St. Louis Lambert for cargo charters.

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That is a nice piece. And yes, it has seemed like there've been a lot of freighters in and out lately. Thank you! :) I expect I'll see it over on the Aviation thread in a bit, but it certainly seems relevant here.
Time to replace the Merchant's Rail Bridge? ... 2FHQ%3D%3D
Looks like it's more of a rehab/reconstruction plan than a replacement. ... 7Final.pdf
The 2017 plan, which seems to be more or less what's going forward, calls for encasing the piers to expand them, allowing 15 foot track centers (the current bridge apparently has 12' centers) and providing seismic protection. It also calls for replacing the three main spans. And they're already replacing the approaches. So . . . I'd call it more of a replacement, albeit a step by step replacement to preserve current alignments and capacity. That said, it looks like a pretty good plan, and it sounds like it might just, perhaps, preserve at least part of the appearance of the current bridge, while restoring (and indeed expanding) capacity when complete.
Would this speed up Amtrak rides at all?