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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Bi-State Development plans LRV purchase, bond issuance


Bi-State Development Agency Board of Commissioners recently approved the purchase of 22 light-rail vehicles (LRVs) and named a lead underwriter for its upcoming bond issuance — both for the agency’s planned eight-mile, $550 million Cross County MetroLink Extension Project.

Bi-State plans to execute a $53 million, five-year contract with Siemens Transportation Systems for the bi-directional LRVs, which are designed to accommodate 72 seated and 106 standing passengers.

Meanwhile, UBS Paine Webber will serve as senior book running investment banker for the bond issue. Stifel Nicolaus, and Siebert, Brandford, Shank will serve as co-senior managers. In addition, several local Missouri and Illinois firms will serve as co-managers to maximize local and regional distribution, according to a prepared statement.

Bi-State officials plan to use proceeds from Proposition M, an existing quarter-cent sales tax devoted to MetroLink expansion and operations, to pay the debt service requirements on the bonds.

"The use of Prop M for the Cross County MetroLink project is not only prudent, but enables us to move MetroLink forward," said Executive Director Larry Salci, adding that few communities are able to demonstrate that level of local financial commitment for extending its rail system.

"It is our intent to leverage this financial effort to qualify as local match funds for future new start/extension funding for the next MetroLink extension," he said.

Federal Transit Administration already had committed federal dollars toward Bi-State’s St. Clair County expansion and it was unlikely FTA would support two nearby infrastructure projects at the same time. But there was a great deal of local demand for the project, so officials opted not to apply for federal funds for the Cross County project, and instead construct it entirely with local funds, says Linda Hamilton-Ross, a Bi-State spokesperson.

Agency officials expect to raise $350 million to $400 million with the bond issue, which is likely to take place in late summer or early fall.

Meanwhile, the agency already has begun right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation work for the expansion project. Construction is slated to begin in fall; completion, late 2005.

Kathi Kube

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/13/2002