ALTON, Ill. – Amtrak customers were welcomed by representatives of the railroad, city of Alton, Madison County and the state of Illinois on Sept. 15, 2017, to the gleaming new Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center, an Amtrak station with a bright and spacious waiting room, Madison County Transit (MCT) connections, bicycle facilities and ample parking. Speakers included Alton Mayor Brant Walker, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin and Illinois DOT Deputy Secretary Rich Brauer.
The facility was developed by the Illinois DOT in conjunction with Alton and MCT. Constructed of reddish brown brick and large expanses of glass that allow in ample natural light, it also features a clock tower. Customers waiting for the train or bus may take advantage of complimentary Wi-Fi or enjoy an exhibit tracing the area’s rich railroad history.
The multimodal center was built at the site of the former Robert Wadlow Golf Course north of the city center, which offers easy access from regional highways. At approximately 9,000 square feet, it is ten times larger than the former Amtrak station – a 1928 Chicago and Alton Railroad depot located about 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.
“This landmark facility will expand regional transit options and provide opportunities for transit-oriented development adjacent to the new station. We are extremely thankful to our project partners…for their tireless efforts to make this project a reality.” – Alton Mayor Brandt Walker.
“We are confident this development will be like the major stations we opened with the Illinois DOT in Champaign in 1999 and in Normal in 2012: it will spark area redevelopment while providing a vital transportation link,” said Mike Franke, Amtrak senior director – State Contracts, at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “This project shows what happens when a great city teams up with a great state transportation department and progressive providers such as MCT and Amtrak.”
The state of Illinois received $1.2 billion in federal funds to improve the Chicago-St. Louis rail corridor to accommodate increased train speeds. Part of the funding included $7.4 million for the construction of a new station in Alton. In December 2011, it was augmented by $13.85 million awarded to the city and the MCT District through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. MCT, the city and the state also contributed project funds.
“This beautiful new transportation center is one more step in a statewide effort to enhance the passenger rail experience along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor,” said Illinois DOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “Travelers in Alton will enjoy a reliable, convenient option to get to where they want to go, while the region benefits from a new station that will help to create economic opportunity for years to come.” New stations have also recently opened in Pontiac and Dwight, and others will soon be completed in Lincoln and Carlinville.
Alton is located at the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers. In 2016, nearly 60,000 Amtrak customers began or ended their journey at Alton, which is served daily by eight Lincoln Service (Chicago-St. Louis) trains and two Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio-(Los Angeles)) trains. The former is financed primarily through funds made available by the Illinois DOT as part of the Amtrak MidwestSM network.