The Port Authority of the City of St. Louis is responsible for the preparation and negotiations for land, mooring leases, and the development of city-owned property in the Port of Saint Louis. The port authority supervises the operation of all of its own floating equipment, and it works with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Coast Guard within the port district. The port authority coordinates all mooring permits at the city's improved wharf. It also processes lease agreements through the city's Port Authority Commission, Board of Aldermen, and Board of Public Service.
The Port of Saint Louis includes 31.1 kilometers (19.3 miles) of riverbank and is located at the intersection of the United States' Marine Highways M55, covering the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers from New Orleans to St. Louis to Chicago, and M70, covering the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers from Pittsburgh to Kansas City.
The Port of Saint Louis has immediate access to several major interstate highways, and it is served by six Class One railroads and some short lines. The Port of Saint Louis is also close to the country's major transcontinental pipelines.
A large multi-modal hug in America's heartland, the Port of Saint Louis handles over 32 million tons of freight each year. The Port of Saint Louis contains more than 130 piers, wharves, docks, and fleeting facilities. It is also home to 16 public terminals. Barges can reach a population of 90 million consumers from the Port of Saint Louis, and the port is a huge distribution center for bulk commodities.
The Metropolitan Port of St. Louis covers a huge area where six port authorities cover different sections of the river. The Illinois side is operated by the Tri-City Regional Port District, the Southwest Regional Port District, and the Kaskaskia Regional Port District. On the Missouri side of the river, the City of St. Louis Port Authority, the St. Louis County Port Authority, and the Jefferson County Port Authority are responsible.
North of the Port of Saint Louis, 15 barges at a time travel through a series of locks and dams. South of the Port of Saint Louis is free of locks and dams all the way to New Orleans, so over 30 barges can travel the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico in a single tow, depending on the width and depth of the river.
About 1.6 kilometers (one mile) north of the Gateway Arch, the Port of Saint Louis Municipal River Terminal handles much of the cargo moving through the port. The Port of Saint Louis Municipal River Terminal is a general purpose public facility covering about 27 acres. Owned by the city, it is the only public general purpose dock in the Missouri side of the Metropolitan Port of Saint Louis.
The terminal has two public docks and two storage facilities. It handles bulk cargoes (like grain, scrap metal, salt, sand, and coal) and product cargoes. The Port of Saint Louis Municipal River Terminal is connected to the metropolitan port by direct rail through the Terminal Railroad Association. The Port of Saint Louis is adjacent to the Mississippi River Bridge and Interstate Highway 70.
The City of St. Louis owns, and Beelman River Terminals operates the New Municipal South Wharf as a public terminal in the Port of Saint Louis. The terminal specializes in shipping and receiving general cargoes and heavy-lift commodities; dry bulk cargoes like grain, coal, coke, scrap metal, ores, sand, and caustic soda; and liquid bulk commodities. A caustic soda pipeline connects the wharf to two steel storage tanks with total capacity for over 1.2 million gallons.
This Port of Saint Louis terminal has 27 acres of open storage, including 23 acres of asphalt surface. The terminal is served by one depressed rail track and two surface tracks at the rear of the transit shed that connect with the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis and the Norfolk Southern Railway. The New Municipal South Wharf in the Port of Saint Louis has berthing distance of 268.2 meters (880 feet) with alongside depth of 3 meters (10 feet).
The City of St. Louis also owns, and Beelman River Terminals operates the North Wharf in the Port of Saint Louis. Serving as a public bulk terminal, it specializes in the same cargo types as the New Municipal South Wharf in the Port of Saint Louis. The terminal's transit shed is used for storing bulk cargoes received by the neighboring New South Municipal Wharf.
A clamshell bucket is used to transfer grain from barge to truck. One surface rail track serves the rear of the transit shed, and two surface rail tracks serve the hopper-car pit. The tracks connect with the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis and the Norfolk Southern Railway. The Port of Saint Louis North Wharf has berthing distance of 189 meters (620 feet) with alongside depth of 2.4 meters (8 feet).
Other shipping activities take place within the Port of Saint Louis at many private facilities. One of the Port of Saint Louis's busiest barge shippers is AEP River Operations, an affiliate of American Electric Power. AEP moved 7.5 million tons of cargo, including agricultural products and steel and construction materials, through the Port of Saint Louis in 2011.