Illinois, Missouri legislators urge USDOT to support funding for Merchants Bridge

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U.S. Rep Mike Bost (R-IL), together with a mix of fellow representatives and senators from Illinois and Missouri, requested federal funding this week for the modernization of a 129-year-old bridge across the Mississippi River.

The Merchants Bridge is located in the St. Louis area and serves as a local area rail network that represents the nation’s second largest rail terminal by interchange and its third largest by volume. Traffic is only expected to rise in the coming years.

“With the USDOT estimating a 2.5 times increase in the demand for freight and passenger rail transportation, it is essential that the Chicago-St. Louis corridor operate at the highest level of efficiency,” the delegation wrote. “Merchants Bridge is a key asset in this endeavor.  In addition, by seismically retrofitting the supporting piers, the project will significantly increase the resiliency of the nation’s rail network.”

Bost, together with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), as well as his fellow U.S. Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Sam Graves (R-MO) and William Lacy Clay (D-MO), wrote to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, requesting a $35 million grant through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program.

Due to the bridge’s current state, the writers emphasized that the bridge could be out of service within 10 years if no funding is allocated, and warned of the consequences.

“Failure to make major improvements in the bridge would result in devastating economic consequences for the regional and national economy,” Bost said. “I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort to encourage economic development and job creation in Southern Illinois and the entire region.”