This article is a part of a monthly feature highlighting East-West Gateway’s Where We Stand series, which ranks St. Louis among the 50 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas (referred to as the peer regions) on topics of regional importance.
Situated at the intersection of major U.S. interstates, railroads, and rivers along with two international airports with cargo capacity, the St. Louis region is uniquely positioned and capable of handling a lot of freight. How much is a lot? The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that over 386 million tons of freight flowed to, from, or within the region in 2017, an amount that ranks 14th among the peer regions. The total value of these shipments is estimated to be over $353 million, which ranks 15th. These two values are the highest among regions not located in a state with a port for oceangoing vessels.
St. Louis has important historic connections to freight travel by rail and water, and these modes continue to play an important role in the region’s freight industry today. In 2017, 17.6 million tons of freight were transported on the region’s rivers, and 62.2 million tons were carried on the region’s railroads. Together, these two modes of transportation carried over $31.6 million worth of goods that were destined to, from, or shipped within the region in 2017.
However, today, most of the region’s freight is shipped on trucks. In 2017, trucks carried over 206 million tons of shipments with a value of over $207 million. Truck travel is aided by the presence of four interstate highways in the region and low levels of congestion.
St. Louis’ highways provide important connections for freight moving across the country. The St. Louis Regional Freight Study provides the following examples: connections from Southern California (via I-44), to Chicago (via I-55), to the northeast (via I-64), and to Kansas City (via I-70).
Truck travel is also aided by the region’s low levels of truck congestion. Based on the Truck Travel Time Reliability Index, St. Louis has one of the lowest levels of truck congestion, ranking 38th out of 42 comparable regions. With lower levels of congestion, shipment delays are minimized in St. Louis.
About Where We Stand
Since 1992, EWG has produced Where We Stand to ignite discussion and help guide decision making on a range of topics important to the region. The Where We Stand series presents rankings for St. Louis among the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States. You can Access more tables, data, and reports in the Where We Stand series at www.ewgateway.org/wws. To receive future updates, subscribe to the Where We Stand newsletter.