Granite City port to expand operations
By Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio
Granite City, IL – The Metro East is the recipient of $6 million in federal stimulus funding for upgrades to a barge and freight port.
The Tri-City Regional Port District moves some 3 million tons of freight in and out of the St. Louis region every year.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says inland harbors, like the Granite City port, are receiving increased funding under his administration.
"We also believe that when you invest in ports as we're doing here, you take a lot of congestion off of the roads and you create what we call 'the Marine Highway', which is access through the waterways, which are not congested," said LaHood.
The $6 million will fund a new railway spur, linking business and freight terminals to a soon-to-be-built barge harbor.
Illinois Congressman Jerry Costello says the money will help boost the region's export capacity by allowing for more barge and river traffic.
"This $6 million puts us a step closer to making the improvements to this facility and building the harbor," said Costello. "It's a win-win for everyone. It's a major investment in economic development."
Construction on the rail spur will begin immediately. The total cost of all port improvements is forecast to reach $23 million.
The port authority estimates the economic impact from the project will total $1.24 billion.