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Construction underway on 5-mile MetroLink extension from Scott AFB to MidAmerica Airport

As seen from above in October 2023, the MetroLink extension from near Scott Air Force Base to MidAmerica St. Louis Airport is underway. Local construction crews are currently moving lots of dirt for the future path of the train.
St. Clair County Transit District
The 5.5-mile MetroLink extension from near Scott Air Force Base to MidAmerica St. Louis Airport is expected to be complete by spring 2026. Construction crews are currently moving lots of dirt for the future path of the train.

Metro East residents and Interstate 64 commuters may notice a significant amount of earth-moving work being done near MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, as construction crews make progress on MetroLink’s expansion.

The St. Clair County Transit District, which is running construction, expects the 5.5-mile extension from near Scott Air Force Base to the airport will be complete by spring 2026, said Ken Sharkey, the district’s managing director.

The roughly $150 million project will connect the region’s two commercial airports via the regional light rail system. Originally, the project was slated to be completed at the end of 2024, but the contractor may have been slowed by supply chain and other issues, Sharkey said.

The project is still expected to be a boon to the regional economy. That’s even the case during construction because the transit district selected local construction crews, Sharkey said.

“It really employs a lot of people — even when the train is not up and running right now,” Sharkey said. “There’s a lot of money that’s thrown into the local economy that helps the entire region here.”

In addition to the train tracks, the project includes adding 5 miles to the bike path that runs adjacent to MetroLink. At the airport, crews will construct a train station across from the MidAmerica terminal — similar to MetroLink’s station at Lambert’s Terminal 2, Sharkey said.

There will also be a 2.4-mile frontage road built near the airport that will be ripe for business development, he said.

“We really believe this is, with that access road, going to bring a lot of economic vitality to the region for the years to come,” Sharkey said.

It’s been a project that local leaders have wanted for decades, but the funding had never been available until now. The state will cover $98 million of the cost largely through Rebuild Illinois — an infrastructure initiative of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and passed by the legislature in 2019.

Construction crews started clearing trees late last year, Sharkey said. Since then, Ameren also diverted gas and electrical lines away from the train’s future path.

This project is just one of the development projects at the Metro East airport.

MidAmerica’s terminal is now nearly doubled in size after construction wrapped earlier this summer on a project. A taxiway finished earlier this year allows planes to travel from the base to the airport.

Boeing is also nearing completion on its naval drone production facility, which is located adjacent to MidAmercia’s facilities.

Will Bauer is the Metro East reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.