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Cortex MetroLink stop opens with promises of tech job growth

A new MetroLink stop opened on Tuesday in St. Louis’ Cortex tech district.

The Cortex MetroLink Station is the first new station built in more than 10 years. It’s also the first Metro Transit construction project built with both private and public funding.

John Nations, president and chief executive officer at Bi-State Development, said private funding was crucial to developing the new transit stop.

“It’s the first time in the history of the system in St. Louis that we have private money being invested into the public-transit system. So, to, us it’s not just a station,” he said. “It’s about access, it’s about opportunity, it’s about economic development and it’s about the power of great partnerships.”

Credit Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio
Comptroller Darlene Green (center) cuts the ribbon on the Cortex MetroLink Station. From right to left, John Nations, Aliah Holman, Darlene Green and Lewis Reed all spoke at the opening ceremony.

Nations said that the city is already considering seeking private funding for other transit projects, including the proposed north-south MetroLink lines.

The station’s schedule is already online. Metro officials said on Twitter that they expect other train schedules to shift by “about a minute” to accommodate the new station, which is located between the Central West End and Grand MetroLink stations on both the blue and red train lines.

Cortex planners have said the train station is a crucial part of its master plan to create 15,000 permanent technology-related jobs in the district. Speakers at the station's dedication emphasized the station's role in Cortex's expansion. 

Metro Transit supervisor Clyde Mason helped oversee the work during station construction and attended the opening ceremony. He said the new station is clean and beautiful — but most importantly, it could support job growth in the Cortex Innovation Community.

“You know, in St. Louis, everybody needs jobs,” he said. “They’re talking about 15,000 jobs. So it’s a great thing for the St. Louis region, always. Jobs, jobs, jobs. You got a job, you’re good.”

Credit Mapbox, Open Street Map; Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio
The Cortex station is located near the Cortex Innovation Community Commons east of Boyle Avenue.

The station sits in the Midtown neighborhood, just south of the first completed quarter mile of the five-mile Chouteau Greenway. When finished, the network of bike trails and walking paths will connect Forest Park to the Gateway Arch.

The Cortex improvements are part of a $15.4-million project to improve transportation in the city’s central corridor. In the next project phase, Metro will expand the boarding platform at the Central West End Station.

Cortex Innovation Community and its partners Washington University and BJC HealthCare provided several million dollars in private funding. The Federal Transit Administration covered $10.3 million with a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, and local public agencies paid for the rest.

Follow Kae on Twitter: @kmaepetrin

Kae Petrin covers public transportation and housing as a digital reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.