The 2025 Priority Projects List for the St. Louis bi-state region includes 27 projects that represent a total investment of more than $8 billion, according to the St. Louis Regional Freightway. As of May 2024, more than $500 million in projects on the list had been completed and nearly $2.3 billion in additional projects had been fully funded, with many of those under construction or soon to be. Those numbers, which continue to grow year over year, underscore the tremendous commitment to improving freight infrastructure in the bi-state St. Louis region by securing funding and advancing major projects through the development pipeline. The Priority Projects List features the top freight infrastructure funding needs for eastern Missouri and southwestern Illinois.

The Priority Projects List was released May 15 during the annual Freight Summit presented by the St. Louis Regional Freightway as part of FreightWeekSTL 2024. The Priority Projects are identified by the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s Freight Development Committee. On that committee are representatives from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), East-West Gateway Council of Governments, all modes of transportation (river, roads, rails and runways), the manufacturing and logistics industries, and academia. The committee members work through a process that has been nationally recognized for its effectiveness.

Completed priority freight infrastructure projects include the $222 million replacement of the Merchants Bridge, a vital rail link connecting Missouri and Illinois near downtown St. Louis. It had been the region’s highest priority infrastructure project since 2016. A $278 million project to improve Interstate 270 (I-270) from James S. McDonnell Boulevard to Bellefontaine Road also wrapped up in 2023, while several smaller projects round out the completed projects list.

Work underway on chain of Rocks Bridge

Kirk Brown, Region Five Engineer for IDOT, said some of the most significant projects on the list that IDOT is advancing, range from the $496 million Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River and the nearby Illinois Route 111 Interchange to the Illinois Route 3 Connector in Fairmont City/East St. Louis. Interstate 64 improvements from Greenmount Road to Illinois Route 158 and the relocation of Illinois 158 (Air Mobility Drive) from Route 161 to Route 177 are also funded and moving forward. Brown also mentioned the Interstate 255 Davis Ferry Road Interchange, which he said currently has an estimated funding shortfall that IDOT hopes to address in time to let the project in late 2025 or 2026.

“If you’ve driven around, you will see that Illinois is under construction,” said Brown.

Tom Evers, Assistant District Engineer for MoDOT, talked about the recently completed I-270 North Project and highlighted some of the other significant Missouri projects moving forward. Those included the I-270 Riverview Interchange project that is progressing in tandem with the collaborative Chain of Rocks Bridge work, improvements to Interstate 55 (I-55) from Route Z to U.S. Route 67 in Jefferson County, Missouri, that are currently under construction, and more than $550 million in improvements to Interstate 70 (I-70) between Wentzville and Warrenton that are funded and should be underway in early 2025. He also said additional improvements on I-270 between Riverview Drive and Bellefontaine Road likely will not get underway until 2027.

“Since I started in this position five years ago, we’ve added additional revenue to our program and with that additional revenue comes a lot more planning and a lot more work,” said Evers. “So, working with East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Bi-State Development and other partners, including our local cities and counties in the metropolitan area, we have a lot of great projects underway and a lot in the planning phase, and we expect to continue to deliver great results to the citizens of Missouri.”

The largest single project on the 2025 Priority Projects List is the new terminal at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. That project will be a $2.8 billion investment and is partially funded. Evers said among MoDOT’s currently unfunded priority projects is a study of the section of I-70 that passes in front of the airport before heading into the City of St. Louis.

“The collaboration between IDOT, MoDOT, East-West Gateway Council of Governments and the manufacturing and logistics industries really is an excellent model that is producing results for our region,” said Mary Lamie. Lamie leads the St. Louis Regional Freightway, which is an enterprise of Bi-State Development. She is the Executive Vice President of Multimodal Enterprises for Bi-State Development.“

As we look ahead five to 10 years, we could see a level of investment that far exceeds the current progress. During that window of time, work may be actively underway on more than $5 billion in infrastructure projects. Those projects would specifically benefit the regional and national supply chain, not to mention supporting the bi-state area’s developer-ready industrial real estate sites,” Lamie said.

The new terminal at St. Louis Lambert International Airport and many other priority projects on the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s 2025 list are among the projects contributing toward the $5 billion in work Lamie referenced.

“Many of these projects specifically support the region’s robust aerospace industry which continues to grow, with more than $2 billion announced for planned expansions,” Lamie said. “Planned expansions by Boeing, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and West Star Aviation will add another 1,000 more jobs in this sector. The region already ranks among the top 20 metros for aerospace employment with 4 times as many aerospace manufacturing employees as other similar-sized markets.”

Lamie said the region also ranks second in the nation for minerals and ores exports and is gearing up for additional growth in the metals sector with Wieland’s recent announcement of $500 million in improvements for its facility in East Alton, Illinois. She said the coming investments also will also support the region’s ranking as the most efficient inland port in the nation. They will help enhance access to the barge terminals in the Ag Coast of America and to industrial parks across the region, specifically in Hazelwood by St. Louis Lambert International Airport, along the north Riverfront in the City of St. Louis, and in Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois.

“We’re thrilled with the progress revealed in the 2025 Priority Project List and are confident this is just the beginning of a sustained period of significant infrastructure investment for our region,” Lamie said.