ALTON — What do you get when mayors, senators, congressmen, a transportation group, local groups and citizens meet at a golf course? A groundbreaking ceremony, of course … for the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center, which has an expected completion date of December 2016.
The center will create a new surface transportation hub at the passenger rail gateway in the northern part of the St. Louis metropolitan area. RiverBend Growth Association President Monica Bristow led Monday’s groundbreaking ceremonies.
“It will create a seamless transfer between passenger rail service, regional transit, bicycle trails and pedestrian facilities,” she said. “The center will increase the competitiveness of multi-modal travel and will support a more regionally and modally balanced transportation system.”
The center will be located at the former Wadlow Golf Course in Alton. Many scenarios were at play a few years ago, including paving the natural beauty of the property to make way for large box stores. Instead, the community and its leaders rose to the occasion and worked together to come up with a plan to benefit the entire community.
Mayor Brant Walker is quick to point out the level of involvement and commitment leaders have shown for the community’s needs. Walker said during the entire process over the past four years “we needed to be mindful of Alton’s history and we needed to be mindful of the citizens that live around this station. Prior to being awarded the TIGER grant … we were awarded over $550,000 of grant funds to maintain and restore the waterway that runs through the site.”
“We are happy,” the Sierra Club’s Christine Favilla said. “There are 63 acres of conservation easement versus a Walmart, and that is a win for the community on many levels.”
“One of the nicest things about this location is that it will be a major development in our region,” Walker said. “We have 33 acres around the station to develop … which will have a huge economic impact on our region.”
The project includes the construction of a 9,000-square-foot train station, boarding platforms, Madison County Transit bus terminal and parking facilities with 225 spaces. Road improvements include the construction of a new access road, realignment of Golf Road and intersection improvements along Homer Adams Parkway at Golf Road and Buckmaster Lane. Additional site amenities include extensive landscaping, bicycle and pedestrian trails, bicycle storage lockers, Call-for-Assistance devices and site surveillance.
State Rep. Dan Beiser of the 111th District expressed gratitude to all the city officials, current and former, who worked together to keep the project on track.
“It is certainly a pleasure to be here, not only as a state rep but almost equally important as honored as a citizen of this city,” Beiser said. “I have seen a lot of changes over the years, but this is one of the premier changes for the better.”
State Sen. Bill Haine, representing the 56th Senate District, closed out the speakers at the ceremony.
“We here are beginning a process to re-establish Alton as the regional pivot of the railroad system,” Haine said. “People will come from the entire region to board the train here. The Chicago-St. Louis corridor is one of the heaviest-used in the Midwest. This is a tremendous regional asset, not just a local project, and many, many hours of work has gone into this.”
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