Ground has been broken on a new $7 million multi-modal transportation project that will service the future Port of East St. Louis.

Money from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will be combined with that from the port’s developers to construct an on-site road, rail lines and utilities to service the port. This will prepare the site for development and when complete will allow full access to the site by truck, train and barge.

“It’s all about location in the shipping industry, and East St. Louis is ideally situated to ship and receive goods by truck, rail or river,” said Illinois Gov. Patt Quinn.

The Port of East St. Louis will be a 200-acre, multi-modal facility with waterway, highway and rail connections.

The public-private partnership will be the single most important business development opportunity that the city has seen in the past 15 years, according to the Illinois governor’s office, less than a mile from the Poplar Street River Bridge and will have open access to Class I railroads with maximum unit train capabilities.

It said the port’s location within the St. Louis Harbor, which is a natural barge tow interchange, will allow it to maximize its multi-modal capabilities without overloading one particular mode of transportation. The facility will ultimately include public docks, cargo cranes and manufacturing along with warehouse facilities.