Leadership Missouri visits St. Louis, sees transportation in action

As the Gateway City, St. Louis was a fitting location for Missouri’s 2014 Leadership Missouri class to learn about—and experience—the variety of transportation resources available in our state.

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Whereas the early travelers arrived in St. Louis via boat or wagon, many visitors today arrive in the city by air. Leadership Missouri participants had a chance to visit this historic main terminal at St. Louis Lambert International Airport and learn about efforts to modernize and upgrade the facility. Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge also shared the airport’s ambitions to become a greater engine for economic development. The airport is currently pursuing a vision to develop its property and bring more international cargo business to the site.

While at the airport, Metro St. Louis Chief Operating Officer Ray Friem shared an overview of the city’s vast public transportation network. He described the many challenges facing the system, including limited public funding compared to other systems. He also shared the success of the system’s MetroLink trains. The class then experienced this form of transportation as they boarded Metrolink for a ride to the Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center, which connects the city’s transit system with rail lines and bus access.

From there, the class headed to the icon of St. Louis, the Gateway Arch, where they learned about the CityArchRiver project. CityArchRiver seeks to enhance the park and improve its ties to the city. While overlooking the monument, the class learned about work to build a pedestrian park-like bridge which will create a seamless transition from the city to the Arch. The project will also revamp the underground museum, including a new entrance, and raise an underutilized parking garage in favor of an outdoor amphitheater and new gardens. The plan also includes new paths that will make the park much more accessible for families and people with limited mobility.

As the class observed the Arch, several barges passed by along the Mississippi River. At the next stop, Leadership Missouri participants learned about a major public facility that makes commercial river traffic possible. The Mel Price Lock and Dam is a massive facility that helps keep the river navigable for barges. With a tour from the US Army Corps of Engineers, the class went behind the scenes and saw how the facility operates before getting a chance to view the museum on the site.

Later, the class heard presentations about the railroad industry and the Railroad Terminal Association. They also learned about the trucking industry and ongoing efforts to improve Missouri roadways using more recycled materials. Later presentations also included discussions about the effort to pass a new sales tax to fund road improvements and new trends in road construction.

The class also had the opportunity to enjoy a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.

Thanks to the many presenters and sponsors—especially CHS Foundation, our premier sponsor—who made the visit to St. Louis both fun and informative. Next, the class visits Sedalia from Aug. 13-15.

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