Mississippi River Mayors gather with U.S. Department of Transportation and Partners to announce Marine Highway Grants for the Waterway

For Immediate Release Contact:  Jim Gwinner, 314-791-2274 or jgwinner@LS2group.com

December 5, 2016 – St. Louis, MO – The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration announced today the awarding of Marine Highway Grants for the Mississippi River.

Though the Marine Highway Grant Program is national in scope, many of the grants have been awarded to projects on the Mississippi River signifying the incredible importance of the waterway to the nation.

Further, of the six projects that are receiving grant funds, five of them are for container-on-barge services.

“It is essential that we invest in integrated, multi-modal transportation systems that support the efficient movement of freight and people throughout this country,” says Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen.  “Our Nation’s extensive network of waterways, riverports and seaports provide an opportunity to help stimulate economic growth while reducing congestion on our national freight transportation system.”

Grantees include a planning grant for a partnership led by the Port of St. Louis, the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative, the Inland River Port & Terminal Association, and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association to build the container economy for the Mississippi River and work with freight forwarders to offer the Mississippi River as a container option.

According to U.S. DOT, population increase in our country will require nearly doubling domestic freight capacity to meet demand. The inland waterway system is a critical part of the solution.

“The Mayors of the Mississippi River have been working to build a sustainable economy for the waterway and the return of container movement on the River is big part of that effort,” said Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis.

America’s Central Port of Granite City, IL received a grant for a container-on-barge shuttle project; and the ports of Memphis, Baton Rouge and New Orleans were also part of an awarded project coordinated by St. Louis based SCF Marine.

“The commercial navigation economy on the Mississippi River generates almost $5 billion in annual revenue supporting nearly 20,000 jobs. Yet, of the more than 30 million containers that enter the U.S. every year, very few of them move on our inland waterway system – this is an opportunity,” said Chris Coleman, Mayor of St. Paul and Co-Chair of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative.

“The Port of New Orleans, is the gateway for the Mississippi River’s global trade.     Waterways and ports in my state support over 280,000 jobs and contribute $47.7 billion to Louisiana’s economy. It is our intention to build this economy up river all the way to Minnesota,” stated Mayor Belinda Constant, Mayor of Gretna, LA and Co-Chair of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative.


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The Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative is comprised of 75 mayors and the association represents cities on the main stem Mississippi from Minnesota to Louisiana. More information can be found on our website at www.MRCTI.org

America’s Central Port Bets Big on Rail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 FOR INFO: Megan Dittman 618-452-8422 November 1, 2016


Granite City, IL:  By the end of 2016, America’s Central Port District, located in Granite City and Madison, IL, will have completed the construction of 4.25 miles of new rail track throughout their business and industrial campus. The construction of this new track doubles the amount of new rail construction completed by the Port over the last 15 years.


Rail crew begins replacement of old rail tracks at America’s Central Port. Tracks being replaced were installed and used by the US Army during WWII.

Midway through September, rail contractors mobilized on two major rail projects at America’s Central Port, designed to increase efficiency and rail throughput, reduce congestion, and provide ample capacity to meet future needs. The first of these projects will bring rail access to a 60-acre development site in the center of the Port’s campus, which will include direct access to the recently-completed, 126,000 sq. ft. advanced chemical processing building, as well as construct an additional spur for future development on this site. This project also includes the rehabilitation of “Track 3” which currently serves two of the six primary warehouses located in the Port’s industrial campus. The existing track was actually made in the late 1800s and was installed by the Army during WWII to transport military material. The new track will be upgraded to current industry standards, and will provide current and future tenants the necessary infrastructure to handle maximum inbound and outbound traffic.

Both the new track construction and the track rehabilitation project were funded through a US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant and matched with a loan from Madison County (IL) Community Development.

“This is a great opportunity for the Port to assist St. Louis area companies that need rail,” said Bill Stahlman, Director of Engineering and Construction for America’s Central Port. “Our new rail construction opens us up to many new markets, and above all, keeps our customers’ shipping costs to a minimum. Nationwide, sixty percent (60%) of a manufacturing company’s costs are in transportation. We are working hard to reduce that number for our tenants.”

The second major rail construction project is the expansion of the South Rail Loop. The initial, single, rail loop track constructed in 2009, will now have two additional adjacent tracks to meet the growing rail needs at the Harbor. Over 15,185 feet of rail will be constructed in this project, allowing additional train capacity.


Rail crew works on a portion of the South Rail Loop expansion at America’s Central Port.

The Port is paying all of the cost of the $2.5 million project through loan funds.

Both projects are scheduled for completion by January 1, 2017, and they will create operational advantages at the Port. Going forward, the Port can accommodate multiple unit trains simultaneously, to better serve their customers.

“At a time when our states and federal government are struggling to build and maintain their infrastructure, America’s Central Port is showing that it can be done, and businesses will take advantage of a strong and reliable transportation system,” said Stahlman.

“We have such a unique opportunity in our region,” said Dr. Charles (Chip) King, Chairman of the Board of America’s Central Port. “Our location in the heart of our nation’s transportation system allows us to offer unique and efficient transportation advantages to our tenants and the region, and the Commissioners and staff at the Port want to be sure that we are capitalizing on all of those opportunities.”

Looking to the future, engineering and planning staff members at the Port have worked diligently to map out the next several projects. These future plans would rehabilitate approximately five to six miles of rail track, and improve the capacity for their operators, while constructing new buildings.

“The Port has a commitment to our tenants and our region,” said King. “Our talented staff never stops looking for ways to not only improve the infrastructure we have in place, but to add to it. With the growing population and the projected increase in demand for goods, we want to be best prepared to handle those increased amounts of freight. Our goal has been, and remains to provide our tenants and the region with the maximum transPORTunities, so that together we can leverage the St. Louis Region as the transportation powerhouse it is naturally designed to be.”




Port District Receives Illinois Intrastate Shuttle Project Designation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 FOR INFO: Megan Dittman 618-452-8422 September 13, 2016


Port District Receives Illinois Intrastate Shuttle Project Designation


The Administrator of U.S. Department Administration, Maritime Administration, Paul “Chip” Jaenichen presents Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director of America’s Central Port, with the America’s Marine Highway Award to recognize the Port for their Illinois Intrastate Shuttle Project Designation for the potential future movement of sea containers on river barges.

Granite City, IL:  The Administrator of U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, and Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau visited the recently opened Madison Harbor at America’s Central Port Monday, September 12th.


Both Administrator Jaenichen and Administrator Nadeau participated in the Administrators’ Roundtable on the Freight Economy held by Bi-State Development Agency Monday morning in downtown St. Louis.

Following the roundtable, Administrator Jaenichen, Administrator Nadeau, and several transportation professionals from the St. Louis Region took a tour of various logistics areas including St. Louis River Terminal, Lange-Stegmann, and America’s  Central Port.

While at America’s Central Port, Administrator Jaenichen presented Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director at America’s Central Port, with a plaque to recognize the Port District for their Illinois Intrastate Shuttle Project Designation for the potential future movement of sea containers on river barges.

“The planning and investment in infrastructure by the Port District has been impressive,” said Administrator Jaenichen. “This river facility is like a field of dreams to those of us in the transportation industry. The design of this facility brings together the three major modes of freight transportation at a location that creates lock and ice free transportation, saving operators both time and money, and ultimately creating endless transportation opportunities for the region,” said Jaenichen.

“We are grateful for this award,” stated Wilmsmeyer “The Port District strongly believes in reinvestment in the infrastructure so that we as a region may continue to grow and thrive. ” The designation was in large part due to the work done by the Illinois Soybean Association for grain export to overseas markets in containers. The project designation makes the future container-on-barge opportunities at America’s Central Port eligible for federal funding.