As St. Clair County dashes to jump on the high speed rail train, Madison County just reminded us that this opportunity left the station years ago.
St. Clair County recently decided to spend $500,000 designing a station in East St. Louis in the hopes that the state will add it to the St. Louis to Chicago high speed rail corridor. But a metro-east stop in Alton is years ahead in planning -- and more importantly, is funded.
The Madison County Transit District just announced that it will help pay the local match on a station in Alton, which already has $17.3 million in federal dollars committed toward building it.
St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said on Wednesday that just because Alton has a station doesn't mean East St. Louis couldn't also. His idea is to alternate the East St. Louis and Alton stops to avoid adding time to travel. But building another station so close, and presumably spending millions more tax dollars to do it, would make sense only to parochial thinkers.
In addition to the Alton station, there will be a station in St. Louis just a few miles from East St. Louis. St. Clair County residents will have ready access to high speed rail; our area doesn't need a third stop.
"We can be sure it won't be here in St. Clair County if we don't stand up and make a pitch for it," Kern said on Wednesday.
The time for that pitch was years ago. Now all St. Clair County is doing is pitching $500,000 into the trash.