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America's Central Port

A towboat pushes a barge past yellow earth scrapers dredging out dirt for a second harbor south of the lock at America's Central Port in Granite City, Ill., on Friday, Mar. 8, 2013, Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle, scordle@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — Nearly $21 million in upgrades to area Mississippi River port facilities and about $8 million to improve St. Louis’ Jefferson Avenue-Parnell Street corridor are among newly awarded federal transportation grants.

The largest local port outlay, about $11.8 million, will benefit America’s Central Port District in Granite City and Madison, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.

The work there will include new railroad track, new road access to the terminal, a new belt system and replacement of a barge loading system.

The St. Louis Port Authority will get about $6.75 million for new track and modernized barge loading and other work. The Southwest Regional Port District in the East St. Louis area also will receive funding.

Dennis Wilmsmeyer, executive director of the America’s Central district — the applicant for the bistate grant — said the money will help secure the St. Louis region’s role as a hub for agricultural shipping.

Wilmsmeyer said the grants will help the region’s ports maintain their ability to compete for such business.

The money awarded to St. Louis for the Jefferson Avenue project is part of the city’s $39 million plan to improve access to the site of the planned National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters northwest of downtown.

City officials said the $8 million will help pay for new road safety features, paving, sidewalks, lighting, a median and other features. The project covers about two miles of Jefferson/Parnell between Market Street and Natural Bridge Avenue.

The area grants are part of $1 billion in infrastructure outlays awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development program, also known as BUILD.

Mark Schlinkmann • 314-340-8265

@markschlinkmann on Twitter

mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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