A $15.6 million federal grant will help St. Louis rebuild a dock that is considered crucial for commercial traffic on the Mississippi River, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said Friday.
Locke was in St. Louis to announce the Economic Development Administration grant to reconstruct the south dock of the city's municipal terminal. The lock was already deteriorating when the flood of 2008 made it even worse.
"Reconstruction of the critically important south dock saves existing jobs and creates new ones by strengthening local connections to the global marketplace and improving St. Louis' standing as one of the nation's most significant inland river ports," Locke said.
More than 2 billion bulk tons pass through the terminal each year.
The dock is considered crucial because the St. Louis terminal is the northernmost shipping point on the Mississippi that doesn't freeze in the winter. That makes it a strategic location for moving bulk products throughout the Midwest, Mayor Francis Slay said.
City officials said the structural integrity of the south dock has deteriorated so much that a "blowout" failure is possible, potentially causing injuries to workers at the dock and crippling shipping. At a news conference, the city provided photos showing a wide seam that has developed down the dock.
"St. Louis's economic strength has always been tied to our ability to serve as a shipping hub," said U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, a St. Louis Democrat and a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
"This project will allow us to keep our competitive edge as a critical shipping hub as we work to retain and create jobs here in the region."