Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Madison County Warms to Metrolink

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Madison County Warms to Metrolink

Article excerpt

Madison County officials ended years of avoiding any involvement in MetroLink by voting on Wednesday to begin preliminary studies to bring a route into their territory.

Meanwhile, in neighboring St. Clair County, officials signed an agreement that clears the way for construction of the line and three new MetroLink stations in East St. Louis. The agreement commits the city to pay at least $2.8 million toward the project over five years, mainly for roads and development around the stations.

East St. Louis Mayor Gordon Bush said the city's investment in the eastward expansion of MetroLink was well worth the cost and would open the way to new housing, jobs and economic development. Bush said MetroLink would be "the bread and butter of a community try ing to survive . . . a city trying to rebuild itself." He said the city had lost 20,000 jobs in the last 30 years. East St. Louis is coming back, he said, and "this is proof positive." For the last several years, officials in Madison County chose not to get involved in the MetroLink program. They said there was little chance of getting a line in their county and argued that contributing any money to the system could increase their taxes while subsidizing routes to other locations. County Board Chairman Rudy Papa, in office since June, asked community leaders to reconsider. Papa said he thought it was appropriate to get the county's interest on the record in case federal and state money became available to help pay for a line. The resolution approved by the Madison County Board on Wednesday endorses a MetroLink line for the county and calls for studies to determine how much it would cost and where funds could be obtained. The resolution notes that the county and its Transit District were preparing a long range transportation plan and adds that "light rail had been accepted by the public in an overwhelming manner on both sides of the Mississippi. …

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