To the editor:
    
    The Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis announced on July 10 the execution of construction and financing agreements to begin work on the region’s top infrastructure priority -- replacing the Merchants Bridge. This is important news for the St. Louis region and the nation’s freight network because the project will bring the bridge up to current rail standards, adding capacity to the rail system while ensuring the safety and resiliency of the national freight rail network.
    We applaud TRRA and its shareholders for making the difficult decision to fund the bridge replacement without federal assistance. Recognizing this critical structure would go out of service in less than 10 years, TRRA stepped up to move this major project forward.
    If TRRA had not taken action, the closure of the bridge would have adversely impacted transportation costs to all modes of transportation, including the six Class I railroads and Amtrak which utilize the bridge daily to cross the Mississippi River.
    The St. Louis Regional Freightway is proud to have worked closely with TRRA to develop and build project consensus and we thank the Freightway Committee members, MoDOT, IDOT, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments’ Board of Directors, the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois and elected officials for making this project the region’s highest infrastructure priority. We welcome the economic impact the $172 million project will have on our region, along with the heightened awareness of the region’s significance in the national supply chain and the role of infrastructure investment when competing in the global market.
    
    MARY LAMIE
    Executive Director
    St. Louis Regional Freightway