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Bridge And Interstate Improvements Highlight St. Louis-Area Transportation Priorities

 Work on the Merchants Bridge should be complete in late 2023 after flood-related delays couple of years ago.
St. Louis Regional Freightway
Work on the Merchants Bridge should be complete in late 2023 after flood-related delays a couple of years ago.

An organization focusing on the transportation of goods in the area is touting roughly $2.75 billion in infrastructure improvements on its annual priority list.

The St. Louis Regional Freightway works with local and state officials and business leaders every year to set the priorities.

“What makes this really unique is the fact that we have both the Illinois and Missouri departments of transportation at the table, and most importantly we have private-sector leaders,” said Mary Laime, who oversees the Regional Freightway for Bi-State Development.

The list released Thursday includes the ongoing replacement of the Merchants Bridge. The $222 million project is on pace for completion in late 2023 after delays a couple of years ago during Mississippi River flooding. The rail bridge connects downtown St. Louis and Venice in the Metro East.

Another project is a section of Interstate 255 in St. Clair County near the Union Pacific facility in Dupo. “That is considered a high-growth location. And it’s going to allow Union Pacific to better market that facility,” Laime said.

Some of the 21 priorities are not fully funded, including planned upgrades on Interstate 70 by St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.

“That’s one of the primary corridors that is supporting some of the highest-growth industrial real estate sites that we have in the region,” Laime said.

The interstate is also considered vital because it connects key elements in St. Louis — the nation’s third-largest rail hub, third-biggest inland port and the Midwest agriculture sector — with the rest of Missouri and beyond.

“I-70 is one of the key highway corridors feeding into all three of those things,” said Missouri Department of Transportation St. Louis District Engineer Tom Blair.

The list of priority projects next goes to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments for possible approval later this year.

Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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