America's Central Port and St. Louis Working Together: $20.86 Million Awarded for Port Improvements
SCF Lewis & Clark Terminals authored a very competitive U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD grant earlier this year on behalf of America's Central Port, the City of St. Louis Port Authority, and the Southwest Regional Port District (East St. Louis) for improvements to the three port facilities.
America’s Central Port submitted the application and will be administering the grant, however the funds were requested on behalf of SCF, the author of the grant and river transportation operator at all three locations.
The total amount of funds required to construct the proposed St. Louis Bi-State Regional Ports Improvement Project (outlined below) total $26,050,000, where $20.84 million was awarded through the BUILD grant, and the remaining 20% match of $5.21 million will be provided by SCF Lewis and Clark Terminals LLC.
St. Louis Bi-State Regional Ports Improvement Project:
America’s Central Port Upgrades in Granite City, IL - $15.8 million
Improvements include approximately 2,050 linear feet of new railroad track, 925 linear feet of paved terminal access roadway, new product receiving belt system (barge to rail), barge loading system replacement, rail car load-out upgrades from storage domes, multi-modal transfer equipment (barge, train and truck) modernization, and employee safety upgrades.
St. Louis Port Authority Upgrades in St. Louis, MO - $9 million
Improvements include 7,350 linear feet of new railroad track, barge loading equipment modernization, river and transfer conveyor replacement, loading shed and support system updates, employee safety upgrades, and necessary improvements to maintain operations during high water conditions up to 40 feet flood stage.
Southwest Regional Port District Upgrades in East St. Louis, IL - $1.25 million
Improvements include loading shed and electrical system updates, hoist system and barge loading spout upgrades, and necessary improvements to maintain operations during high water conditions up to 40 feet flood stage.
Construction is projected to begin in January 2022, and completed in December 2023.
SCF Lewis and Clark Terminals LLC provides integrated logistics and barge transportation services to support the St. Louis bi-state region’s inland ports. Because St. Louis is an important intersection point for Class I railroads, multiple highways and the river transportation system, the St. Louis region is able to pull grain from surplus regions in the west and north, funneling grain to the river system via America’s Central Port, St. Louis Port Authority Municipal River Terminal and the Southwest Regional Port District facilities.
The region’s strategic location on the Mississippi River is the northernmost lock and ice-free port on the river and offers substantial fleeting operations. The St. Louis region is the second largest inland port and the largest inland agricultural port in the world.
This proposed regional project supports the outlook shared by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue when visiting the bi-state region noting, “Logistics and transportation are some of the most important aspects to farming and America’s superior inland waterways are critical to our overall agricultural system,” Secretary Perdue said. “Water transport is the most efficient, cost-effective transportation for our producers, and our waterways keep the American exporter the most competitive in the world.” Also present in the bi-state region, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James added, “This Nation’s inland waterways are vital to our economy as they provide cost-effective transportation to producers and manufacturers throughout the system while reducing pressure on our overburdened interstate highways,” said Assistant Secretary James. “Our inland waterway system is the largest in the world and provides jobs that strengthen American communities and the nation as a whole.”
While rail-served, the three St. Louis bi-state regional terminals do not have sufficient track capacity to handle unit trains, thus crippling the competitive advantage of being centrally located in the agricultural heartland just south of the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers. Aging intermodal transfer equipment cannot currently handle throughput sufficiently to satisfy unit train requirements for future use. Employee safety enhancement will also enable the facility to meet customer demands for inspection of longer rail cars. In addition, these facilities cannot maintain productivity during high water events. In 2019, barge loading/unloading was suspended for 82 days when the Mississippi River was between 30 and 38 feet flood stage. This project will overcome these challenges and make the region’s river infrastructure more resilient and competitive. Other economic impacts are outlined below.
On an annual basis, improvements to handling equipment will eliminate 1,500 truckloads that circulate the port facilities. Diverting cargo from truck to railroad removes an additional 27,500 trucks from the highways on an annual basis. In addition, accommodating unit trains replaces a minimum of 400 trucks per train. These changes will reduce truck emissions generated from these facilities up to 56% annually, decrease overall pavement ware, and help with traffic congestion on public roads.
Private sector matching funds will be used to meet the 20% required match, all of which are at port facilities within Opportunity Zones (OZ), helping increase awareness about the investment opportunity within the region. In addition, the project will create nearly 235 temporary construction jobs within these communities.
By eliminating annual suspension of barge operations due to high water conditions, these facilities will be able to maintain operations during river levels up to 40 feet, increasing the resiliency for national exports. (In 2019, high water levels caused an 82 day suspension; upgrades enable 0 days at same flood stage) This will eliminate the diversion of train carloads having to be shipped by alternative distribution channels, helping to avoid higher freight costs and lower market rates for regional farmers during flood events in the St. Louis region.
By expanding export operations, where currently 50% of U.S. crops and livestock are produced within a 500-mile radius of this St. Louis bi-state region, including approximately 80% of corn and soybean acreage, these updates will provide a substantial level of support for the rural economy.
Food safety is a very important issue for terminal customers and the port terminals themselves as both are accountable by audit on an annual basis to ensure proper procedures are followed with their cargo. Updating the cargo handling facilities will enable the St. Louis bi-state region to stay ahead of “Feed-to-Food” standards that are anticipated to become even more stringent than processes in place today.
Project Scope For Each Site:
America’s Central Port, Granite City and Madison, Illinois - Upgrades: $15.8M
Replace the dust collection system installed at the Norfolk Southern (NS) railroad and truck transfer operations to contribute to better air quality.
Update rail served buildings to accommodate fall protection for worker safety and service expansion to meet customer demands for inspection of longer rail cars.
Update rail served buildings to accommodate fall protection for worker safety and service expansion to meet customer demands for inspection of longer rail cars
Upgrade the product receiving system to meet efficiency standards for grain by-product volumes and Class I railroad turn times.
Replace outdated barge loading system not currently capable of handling full customer production for export, doubling the capacity for agricultural products.
Update the rail car loading system at the storage domes to increase efficiency and reduce truckloads from the port roadway network annually.
Pave truck haul road to eliminate dust and improve accessibility to the terminal operations from the paved roadway network through the greater port facility.
Extend two NS rail spurs to accommodate unit trains improving efficiency and marketability of the port to the railroads.
Installation of four grain bins at the Madison Harbor will enable simultaneous handling of rail cars and trucks to maximize the full potential and capacity of this facility.
The operations associated with line item #5 noted above currently handles over 5,000 rail cars of agricultural products annually. This capacity keeps over 20,000 trucks off the highways. The proposed state of the art equipment will increase facility capacity to 10,000 rail cars annually and this will remove another 20,000 trucks from the highways for a total annual impact of 40,000 less truck emissions, pavement ware, and exposure to the travelling public. Another 1,500 truckloads within the multi-modal facility will be eliminated by the improvement noted in line item #6 above through updates to the rail car loading system, which will help to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Lastly, the fall protection components noted in line items #2 and #3 not only enhance employee safety, but also enable the facility to meet customer demands for inspection of longer rail cars.
St. Louis, Missouri - MRT Upgrades: $9M
The City of St. Louis owns this public Mississippi River terminal. The Project proposes to expand the existing rail to accommodate unit trains at the facility with two spurs of adequate length. The upgrades will also enhance efficient movement of cargo by barge as well as enhance employee safety while increasing resilience from flooding as summarized below:
Install approximately 7,350 feet of railroad track to extend two spurs to accommodate unit trains.
Modify the barge loading equipment and structure to improve efficiency and enable operations to continue in high water conditions.
Replace river and transfer conveyors as well as all supporting systems to increase throughput satisfying unit train requirements for future use.
Update the loading shed and facilities including the electrical system, fall protection for worker safety and service expansion to meet customer demands for inspection of longer rail cars.
The installation of new track to extend the existing spurs within the rail corridor identified for line item #1 noted above is imperative to becoming a unit train shipper, which is a regional need to elevate the competitive advantage for this location. Current and future customer demand dictates expansion of the rail infrastructure in the region and the MRT facility has the capacity to accommodate additional tracks that may be fully integrated with the paved development so as not to impede full access to freight trucks, terminal vehicles, and equipment. Line item #3 above is necessary to increase the throughput capacity of the conveyor systems to meet the requirements for future unit trains. The fall protection components of line item #4 not only enhance employee safety but also enable the facility to meet customer demands for inspection of longer rail cars.
By modifying current barge loading equipment and structures as described in line item #2, this facility will expedite the movement of agricultural products uninterrupted through any high water conditions up to approximately 40 feet flood stage. In 2019 there were 82 days where barge loading and unloading was suspended at MRT and ESTL due to high water, resulting in an estimated 6,560 train carloads regionally (equivalent to 23 million bushels of corn) having to be shipped by alternative distribution channels incurring higher freight costs and lower market rates for regional farmers. Facilities will be enhanced to offer capabilities in handling all non-free flowing agricultural products. This will allow the port to be competitive and provide their customers with this service. It will also provide the ability to increase throughput capacities to accommodate current and future railroad requirements for unit train shipments.
East St. Louis, Illinois - ESTL Upgrades: $1.25M
This Southwest Regional Port District facility was built in 1955 and needs updated electrical operating systems for safe operations and to maintain a state of good repair. Like MRT, this facility needs to be modified to handle larger barges in high water conditions. In addition to overcoming this challenge, the upgrades at this facility will enhance efficient movement of cargo by barge as well as enhance employee safety while increasing resilience from flooding as summarized below.
Update the electrical system at the loading shed.
Update hoist system and barge loading spout to increase efficiency, handle larger barges and enable operations to continue in high water conditions.
Letters of support for The St. Louis Bi-State Regional Ports Improvement Project were provided by:
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) – Senate Minority Leader
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) – Transportation and Safety Subcommittee
Congressman Mike Bost (R-IL) – House T&I Committee
Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) – House T&I Committee
Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) – House Energy and Commerce Committee
Senator Roy Blunt, (R-MO) – Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO) – House T&I Committee
Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO)
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
Mayor Lyda Krewson – City of St. Louis
St. Clair County Economic Development
America’s Central Port
St. Louis Port Authority
Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals, Inc.
The Chamber of Commerce – Southwest Madison County
St. Louis Regional Freightway