ALTON, ILLINOIS—On September 21, Alton Mayor Brant Walker and city leaders were joined by U.S. Representative Mike Bost, state elected officials and representatives from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Amtrak to break ground on the new Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center.
Alton is a popular stop for St. Louis-area passengers from both Illinois and Missouri. In Fiscal Year 2014, nearly 69,000 passengers began or ended their journey at the existing Alton station, which is served by the Lincoln Service (Chicago-St. Louis), financed primarily through funds made available by IDOT, and the Texas Eagle (Chicago-St. Louis-San Antonio/Los Angeles).
At approximately 8,000 square feet—ten times larger than the current Amtrak station—the transportation center will include a baggage room, waiting room, electronic information signs and ticket vending machines. The design, developed by IDOT in conjunction with the city of Alton and Madison County Transit, includes a clock tower and large expanses of glass to allow natural light to flood the interior. The station will accommodate Amtrak trains, Madison County Transit buses, bicycles and taxis. Since Alton is a popular departure point for train riders from the wider St. Louis metropolitan area, ample parking is also included in the site layout. Construction is expected to last approximately one year.
The transportation center is being constructed at the site of the former Robert Wadlow Golf Course north of the city center, which offers easy access from Interstate 255, U.S. Route 67 and State Route 3. The existing station, built by the Chicago and Alton Railroad in 1928, is located approximately two miles to the southeast. According to city plans, the golf course property will be transformed into a new mixed-use center to include housing, commercial, office and cultural spaces. A portion of the site has also been designated as green space.
Under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program, the state of Illinois received $1.2 billion to improve the Chicago-St. Louis rail corridor so passenger trains will be able to attain regular speeds of 110 mph. When completed in 2017, the upgraded line is expected to present an even stronger transportation alternative for drivers along the congested Interstate 55 corridor.
Part of the HSIPR funding awarded to IDOT included $7.4 million for the construction of a new station in Alton. In December 2011, the HSIPR funding was augmented by $13.85 million awarded to the city of Alton and the Madison County Transit District through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. Madison County Transit, the city and the state have also contributed project funds.