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8 southwest Illinois infrastructure projects get $41 million in funding

This Mississippi River and St. Louis skyline are seen from the America's Central Port in Granite City, Ill.
America's Central Port
This Mississippi River and St. Louis skyline are seen from the America's Central Port in Granite City, Illinois.

Eight infrastructure projects in and around Madison and St. Clair counties will receive $41 million in funding through Illinois’ portion of a federal program designed to improve the nation’s freight system.

“All of these projects are basically serving the manufacturing, logistics industries,” said Mary Lamie, an executive vice president at Bi-State Development. “We have a very dense cluster of those industries. We have local companies, national companies and global companies all operating in these areas. Investment in this infrastructure is going to allow those companies to remain competitive.”

In total, Illinois awarded funds for 22 port, rail and highway projects across the state through the 2023 Illinois Competitive Freight Program, which is funded through the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act, known by many as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

The most expensive project in southwest Illinois includes more than $15 million for the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis’ freight yard expansion project at Madison Yard and general rail improvements throughout St. Clair County. Between Venice and East St. Louis, the money will help build a third track.

“It's just like adding a lane to an interstate,” Lamie said. “It's going to help alleviate congestion that they have.”

Built 40 years ago, the two tracks used to serve trains between 2,000 and 3,000 feet long. Now, Lamie said, the trains running at the freight yard are 7,500 to 14,000 feet long, creating the need for a third track.

Interstate 55 and 70 between Collinsville and Troy will get another $10 million for lane and interchange improvements. That will fund the engineering to plan for another lane on the 10-mile stretch, Lamie said.

“This is going to help quite a bit for trucks from a safety perspective but also from a reliability and an efficiency perspective,” Lamie said.

The next biggest project will be $4.3 million for the Kaskaskia Regional Port District. Headquartered in Red Bud, Illinois, the district has four ports in the Kaskaskia and one in the Mississippi.

An aerial view of one of the Kaskaskia Regional Port District's location on the river.
Kaskaskia Regional Port District
The Kaskaskia Regional Port District has four ports in the Kaskaskia River and one in the Mississippi River, including KRPD #1 located south of New Athens.

The district will use the grant to double its track underneath a crane at the facility between Red Bud and Baldwin on the Kaskaskia. General manager Ed Weilbacher said the project wil reduce congestion and improve safety and efficiency.

America’s Central Port, which is headquartered in Granite City, will receive $3.6 million for dock improvements. Those will help increase capacity at the barges to help move goods from ships to rail or trucks.

The two ports have a number of other projects underway. They detailed some of them at a panel discussion last week.

And nearly $772,000 is headed for engineering work on Illinois Route 3 in Sauget. The goal will be building a bridge over the railroad to keep commuters from waiting 20 or 30 minutes for trains to pass.

These five projects were included on the St. Louis Freightway’s priority list for 2023, which industry leaders at places like Bi-State helped put together. Another three projects not on the list also received funding.

Those include:

  • $4 million for reconstruction engineering for Illinois Route 127 between Interstate 64 and Route 15 in Washington County just north of Nashville, Illinois.
  • Another $2.1 million for road improvements at America’s Central Port.
  • $1.6 million for Illinois Route 203, which runs from the World Wide Technology Raceway to Interstate 270 north of Granite City.

The St. Louis Regional Freightway also just published its 2024 priority list, which includes nearly $3.7 billion worth of projects at various stages.

Will Bauer is the Metro East reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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