Replacement of the 128-year-old Merchants Bridge in St. Louis will proceed as scheduled, with the railroads that own the span stepping up to fund the full $172 million cost.
The Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA) of St. Louis and area elected officials had sought a federal grant to cover a third of the price but learned last month that their application had been rejected. TRRA announced it made the decision to proceed without the federal aid because of the span’s deteriorating condition.
Walsh Construction Co. of Chicago will begin work this fall on the four-year project. Replacement of the bridge, one of two local spans across the Mississippi River used by railroads, has been designated the metro area’s top infrastructure priority by the St. Louis Regional Freightway.
The bridge work, which will be one of the biggest construction projects in the region, will involve 150 direct jobs. The total increases to 1,100 jobs if suppliers and other companies related to the project are included. TRRA is working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to finance the project.
Currently only one train at a time, traveling 5 mph, can cross the span because of weight and speed restrictions due to the bridge’s condition. The new bridge will be wide enough to accommodate two 315,000-lb locomotives. When finished, the bridge will help relieve river-crossing bottlenecks. But there will be additional delays during construction as trains at times will be rerouted across the MacArthur Bridge, the other freight span in the downtown St. Louis area.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch