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The St. Louis area’s position as one of the most efficient inland ports in the United States has been strengthened following the recent addition of a new grain handling terminal on the banks of the Mississippi River at Cahokia, in Illinois, adding additional capacity in the region known as the “Agricultural Coast of America.”

The region won the title due to a 15-mile stretch of the Mississippi River featuring 15 barge transfer facilities that, at full capacity, can handle 150 barges per day, the highest level of capacity along the Mississippi River. The addition of the 16th terminal, which was built by American Milling and purchased in December 2020 by Oakley St. Louis, a subsidiary of Arkansas-based Bruce Oakley, further expands existing capacity, with the ability to handle at least 1,000 extra trucks of daily grain.

Bruce Oakley, whose various operations include a dry bulk fleet that includes pneumatic and vacuum pneumatic trailers, as well as hopper and end-dump trailers, entered the market in 2019 with his purchase of Lange-Stegmann Company. , and this is his second terminal in the area. The acquisition gave Bruce Oakley control of the 60-acre Lange-Stegmann site at mile 182.7 on the upper Mississippi River, which includes a barge dock, a rail yard with 23,000 feet of track, three locomotives, a truck and rail scale, and more than 153,000 tonnes of storage capacity.

“Bruce Oakley, Inc. is very pleased to have a presence in the St. Louis area,” said Justin Oakley, vice president of Bruce Oakley. “For a freight transportation and distribution company like Oakley, St. Louis is one of the most strategic places on the river system. No other city connects river, rail, and road like America’s agricultural coast.

“The deep drafts of the barges, the lock-less, ice-free river leading into New Orleans, the connection to Class 1 railways, and the proximity to many industrial accounts that Oakley also serves, make the coast agricultural a perfect place for us. Having the largest and most efficient fertilizer terminal in the region, complemented by a high speed grain loading terminal, makes Oakley the unique tool to add value to customers from all over the world. the region.

Bi-state development

Other facilities on the agricultural coast include the Cargill grain elevator, which is one of the busiest grain elevators in the country; the Bunge-SCF River grain terminal in Fairmont City, Ill., designed for more than one million bushels of permanent storage and capable of handling large volumes of multiple commodities simultaneously; and four facilities in Cahokia, Ill. operated by Consolidated Grain and Barge Company (CGB), Louis Dreyfus and COFCO International Growmark, which are the four highest capacity facilities in the entire waterway.

Facilities operated by ADM, Gavilon Fertilizer, SCF and Italgrani Elevator Company, as well as America’s Central Port and the Municipal River Terminal in St. Louis, complement the 16 barge transfer facilities that currently handle the huge volumes of agricultural produce and fertilizer crossing the Côte d’Ag.

Growth on the Agricultural Coast is also supported by the recently completed reconstruction of Cargill Elevator Road, a vital link to Cargill’s grain terminal on the Mississippi River. Trucks make up 87% of vehicles crossing the narrow roadway, and prior to the reconstruction, traffic was limited to one lane in each direction. Federal funding of $ 800,000 through the IDOT Competitive Freight Program was key to moving the $ 3.3 million project forward, which also received public and private funding.

“IDOT is proud to work closely with our stakeholders and local businesses to improve the efficiency of freight transportation in our region,” said Keith Roberts, Acting Engineer Region Five for the Department of Transportation. Illinois. “The recent improvements to the Cargill Elevator road complement future work planned by the ministry, including the extension of the IL 3 road south moved to Sauget and additional projects to improve the reliability of the freight and commuter network along this vital regional corridor. ”

An additional project, now partially funded, will help deal with the heavy traffic volumes on Illinois Highway 3 at the A&S crossing in Sauget, which results in more than 55,000 hours of traffic delays per year. By calculating the cost of the delay, a proposed grade separation project would save $ 1.5 million annually for drivers of passenger and commercial vehicles in this area and improve reliability. , the safety and efficiency of truck traffic for the benefit of barge and train tariffs. The overall project has multiple benefits for the region in terms of improving access to the growing business community and encouraging future business development.

Mary Lamie, vice president of Multimodal Enterprises for Two-State Development and head of St. Louis Regional Freightway, said she was excited about the continued investment in the agricultural coast and the infrastructure that surrounded.

“Handling nearly 450,000 tonnes per mile, the St. Louis region’s port system is nearly two and a half times more efficient on river use than its closest competitor, according to the most recent US rankings. Army Corps of Engineers, ”Lamie said. . “The additional capacity and improved access provided by the latest investments in terminals and infrastructure will be helpful given projections that 2021 will be a banner year for US corn and soybean exports.”

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