JEFFERSON CITY – A project that will remove the last single-track bottleneck on the Union Pacific Railroad line between Jefferson City and St. Louis was approved Wednesday. The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded a contract for a new railroad bridge over the Osage River to OCCI, Inc., a Fulton, Mo.-based construction company. When completed, the new bridge will significantly improve freight and passenger rail service.

The Osage River Bridge is the first major rail infrastructure project to be awarded in Missouri under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “This is an unprecedented achievement for freight and passenger rail in our state,” said Gov. Jay Nixon. “When the bridge is completed, rail service in Missouri will become an even more valuable transportation asset.”

The project, estimated at $20 million, will construct a second railroad bridge over the Osage River, adjacent to the existing Union Pacific bridge at Osage City. It also includes a new second mainline track on both sides of the new bridge, totaling about one-half mile. The new track will connect to the existing line, providing approximately 130 miles of double track from Jefferson City to St. Louis.

“We are very pleased the commission awarded the contract for this crucial project, and we look forward to improving rail service in our state,” said Missouri Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Operations Director Michelle Teel. “We anticipate construction to begin in early March, with completion at the end of 2013.”

In 2006, a rail line capacity study was commissioned by MoDOT with the University of Missouri to address increasing delays to Amtrak and freight trains operating across Missouri. The study helped MoDOT and Union Pacific engineering and network planning groups identify projects to increase rail line capacity between St. Louis and Kansas City and on-time performance of both Amtrak and freight trains.

“This project eliminates the last bottleneck on the eastern half of the St. Louis to Kansas City corridor,” said Ben Jones, Union Pacific’s director of Public Affairs. “Removing this last single track portion will improve the velocity of both Amtrak and freight trains.”
Once complete, the project is expected to increase the reliability of Amtrak’s on-time performance.