Metro East to share in $220 million to improve ports and transit systems
The Metro East is set to get tens of millions of dollars to improve local public transit systems and update the region’s ports.
The grant funding from the state is part of $220 million in capital improvements for downstate communities that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced in East St. Louis on Wednesday.
“We're launching funding to support Illinois ports, a critical hub for our national infrastructure and shipping logistics, as well as our three dozen transit systems outside of Chicago,” Pritzker said.
One of the projects in the Metro East is the construction of a $9.9 million public safety center in St. Clair County, which will house county sheriff’s deputies, 911 dispatching, a transit control center for MetroLink and a pilot program to assist riders with mental health, homlessness and other issues.
The new facility will be built on the light rail route and will help address public safety concerns about MetroLink, said St. Clair County Board Chair Mark Kern.
“In this building 24 hours a day, eight dispatchers will be housed,” he said. “They'll not only dispatch a part of St. Clair County, but also they'll be monitoring cameras, they'll be able to dispatch Metro personnel should there be problems on the Metro route.”
America’s Central Port District in Granite City is also one of the grant recipients, receiving a total of $21 million to improve efficiency and a sediment reduction project in Madison Harbor. Quincy’s Mid-America Intermodal Port will also receive $13.2 million to enhance the port's capacity and efficiency.
“Our ports and waterways offer a gateway between your region and the global marketplace,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “These awards will only strengthen our status as the multimodal transportation hub of North America.”
Osman added the projects across the state are tailored to the needs of each community.
“We went looking for ideas from our partners at the local level, on how to best improve their facilities and the services they provide,” he said.
For Pritzker, the announcement in East St. Louis was also an opportunity to restate his commitment to communities that have long been overlooked when it comes to state funding.
“We've made many investments that are the foundations of building a base for job growth for economic growth in this area,” he said. “I want to do even more.”
Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program: Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.