Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, along with representatives of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), Union Pacific, Amtrak and contractor OCCI, Inc., officially opened a new Union Pacific $28-million 1,200-foot railroad bridge across the Osage River, ahead of schedule and under budget.
The new bridge adds capacity and targets continued improvement of on-time performance for freight trains and the Amtrak Missouri River Runner trains between Kansas City and St. Louis.
The new bridge, located just east of Jefferson City in Osage City, removes a major bottleneck that was caused when two tracks would funnel to one to cross the Osage River on a single-track railroad bridge and, then, connect back to a double mainline track. With the completion of the railroad bridge over the Osage River, the rail corridor between St. Louis and Jefferson City now consists entirely of two mainline tracks.
“This new railroad bridge is yet another strategic investment in our rail infrastructure that will allow for higher performing passenger rail, while also laying a foundation to invest in faster, more frequent and even more reliable service,” said Administrator Szabo. “It also advances the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, a vision Missouri shares with eight other states to connect the Midwest’s 40 largest cities with high-performance passenger rail.”
MoDOT commissioned a study by the University of Missouri (Mizzou) to determine where rail line capacity enhancements should be made to improve train velocity. The Mizzou study helped MoDOT and Union Pacific’s engineering and network planning groups make solid choices where capacity projects should be considered across the 275-mile rail corridor.
The new bridge enables all trains that use the corridor to operate more efficiently.
According to MoDOT, 90 percent of the Missouri River Runner trains arrived on-time or ahead of schedule in fiscal year 2013. These same passenger trains were operating an average of 64 percent on-time in 2008. Subsequently, ridership has increased for six consecutive years to nearly 200,000 passengers.