Photo by Jason White
From left, U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Illinois) talks to Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan, Alton Mayor Brant Walker and Illinois American Water Alton District Field Operations Superintendent Karen Cooper at the site of the planned Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center. Illinois American workers are installing a new water line at the site.
ALTON — A former golf course in Alton is transforming into a regional transportation hub that local and federal officials say will drive economic growth in Alton and beyond.
U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Illinois) paid a visit Thursday, Oct. 30, to the future site of the Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center at the former Robert P. Wadlow Golf Course at 1 Golf Road just north of Homer Adams Parkway.
Enyart emphasized the importance of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program. The city of Alton and Madison County Transit obtained a $13.85 million grant in 2011 to build the multi-modal facility.
According to Enyart’s office, in late July the congressman led efforts to prevent the program from being cut from $550 million to $100 million. State and local governments compete for the funding to get help with infrastructure projects. One local beneficiary is America’s Central Port in Granite City.
“We’re going to continue to push for this grant funding because this is the type of infrastructure development we need,” Enyart said. “It’s just going to be a boon for the city of Alton, Madison County and the whole Metro East area.”
According to the grant application, the project will include an indoor customer waiting area with service desk and restrooms; electronic arrival/departure information signs; eight bus bays with canopies for waiting passengers, 25 bicycle storage lockers, 350 parking spaces, access roads, sidewalks, public art and landscaping. The project will be developed concurrently with a new Amtrak station at the Wadlow site. Work is under way on a state-funded high-speed rail project that will cut transit time from Alton to Chicago to three hours by 2017.
The federal grant also will fund the purchase of eight biodiesel buses to expand bus service throughout Madison County.
The grant application describes the multi-modal center as the “capstone” of the $72 million Robert Wadlow Town Centre project to transform 37 acres of the former golf course into shops and housing connected to the multi-modal center through bike paths and sidewalks. About $41.7 million for the project is expected to come from private development.
The city is in the planning stages to determine exactly what sort of development will take place at the site.
“It will be developed comprehensively,” Alton Mayor Brant Walker said.
Walker said he was encouraged by Enyart’s visit.
“It’s very beneficial to have a congressman who sees that without the TIGER grant program, this wouldn’t have happened,” Walker said.
Major earthwork will start at the former golf course this spring. The grant requires the city and county to complete the transit project by December 2016.
“This is going to be a great development for the whole Riverbend area and we’re excited to get the project under way,” Walker said.
More information about the multi-modal project is available here.
Earlier Thursday, Enyart toured the Riverbend Head Start building in Granite City and spoke about the need to support the early childhood education program.
Enyart, who has served in Congress since January 2013, is facing state Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro in the Nov. 4 election.