St. Clair County may chip in $500K for high speed rail station in East St. Louis

News-DemocratFebruary 23, 2014 

Amtrak train.

AP

St. Clair County leaders are considering committing $500,000 to lure a high speed rail station to East St. Louis as part of the state's project connecting St. Louis and Chicago with a 284-mile rail track capable of allowing trains reach 110 mph.

The St. Clair County Board will consider using the money to aid the state's Department of Transportation with the design and planning of the station, which would be adjacent to the MetroLink on River Park Drive. Board members will likely vote on the proposal during a meeting on Monday night.

County Board Chairman Mark Kern asked County Board members to support the station during the board's Economic Development Committee on Thursday.

"We are the only county with MetroLink so that will allow ... all the communities in St. Clair County to be attached to high speed rail," Kern said. "If a station isn't built in East St. Louis, you'll have to travel to Alton or St. Louis to get on a high speed train. Alton is probably a half hour, 45 minutes (to reach by car). If you have to travel to St. Louis, you will be leaving your home to cross the bridge to get on a train that will then backtrack just where you were. Then when you are coming back, the train will pass your home on its way to St. Louis."

The project is funded through $1.2 billion in federal funds and $400 million in state funds. The St. Clair County Transit District would provide the proposed local funding.

"It makes sense for a Chicago route, which is paid for by Illinois, to have a station in East St. Louis. We are asking for four trains a day to stop in East St. Louis. Four will stop in Alton so it really doesn't add an additional station on the route. It just allows for additional access for what we believe is going to be the largest crowd of users on that route."

The project is expected to be completed in 2017, though, significant reductions in travel time to Chicago will begin in 2015. The cost of the proposed station in East St. Louis is not yet known.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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