By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
On Dec. 12, 2022, officials with Madison County Transit announced a multi-year capital investment totaling $34 million in funding for the expansion and enhancement of the MCT Trails and Transit systems.
There are 19 Trails projects in 18 Madison County communities, to be initiated over the course of the next five years. that fall under this major investment by the agency’s board of directors, as outlined by MCT Executive Director SJ Morrison during the recent press conference. Funds will be used to add more than 20 miles of new trails to the system, as well as two new tunnels and seven new bridges.
“Madison County’s twelve trails have become a magnet for visitors,” Morrison said. “With them, we have 138 miles of Class One bikeways, nearly 1,600 acres of greenspace, with 23 tunnels, 50 bridges, and 7 loops interconnecting 21 communities.”
The connection is further supported by the 93 buses that support the Madison County Transit system, all equipped with bicycle racks.
Funds will be invested throughout the four MCT Trails Zones: Riverbend, Central, Southwest, and East.
In its Riverbend Zone, MCT has committed $12,150,000 to projects in seven communities. This commitment includes investing in a shared-use path in Downtown Alton, funds to support a Godfrey trail from LaVista to Glazebrook Park, a trail from the new MCT Eastgate Park & Ride in East Alton to the MCT Confluence Trail, and an extension of the Goshen Trail which will bring the MCT Trails into Roxana, Wood River, Bethalto, and South Roxana.
MCT has committed $4,350,000 to projects in its Central Zone, including a tunnel under IL-157 for the MCT Schoolhouse Trail in Collinsville, new trail extensions in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon, a bridge for the Schoolhouse Trail in Maryville at Pleasant Ridge Road, and completion of a study to determine the best alignment to extend the MCT Trails from the SIUE campus to the MCT Confluence Trail along the river.
In the Trails’ Southwest Zone, the MCT board committed $10,500,000 toward projects including a bridge over IL-111 for the MCT Schoolhouse Trail in Pontoon Beach; a series of trail projects in Granite City to connect the MCT Confluence Trail and MCT Nature Trail to parks, neighborhoods and commercial areas; an extension of the MCT Schoolhouse Trail into Madison; and a trail connection from the MCT Confluence Trail near the McKinley Bridge into Venice and through the community, to connect the trail system and improve pedestrian access.
MCT Trails’ East Zone will benefit from $6,500,000 in committed investment to projects that include a signature trail bridge over US 40 to connect Troy to the MCT Trails system and an extension of the MCT Silver Creek Trail from Troy to St. Jacob and Highland.
“Bike trails are an investment that will yield dividends,” Morrison noted.
Significant investments in capital projects to enhance the Madison County Transit system were also announced by agency officials, totaling nearly $11 million. Among them:
- $4.2 million for a new MCT transfer station in the IL-111 corridor to serve the growing Madison County warehouse districts known as “Logistics Valley.”
- $2.8 million for a new Collinsville Park & Ride lot in the IL-157 corridor to improve transit access throughout Madison County and to employment in St. Louis.
- $1 million in renovations to the MCT Granite City Station, a project already underway.
- $3 million for a new Computer Aided Dispatch/Automated Vehicle Location system which will not only create operational efficiencies, and allow for schedule reliability, it will provide the public with real-time next bus information, accessible on any mobile device.
Systemwide, MCT further committed an investment of $500,000 toward the development of public art along its trails and transit systems, announcing the launch of its “Arts on the Trails” and “Arts in Transit” campaigns. Over the course of the next several months, MCT will be working with Heartlands Conservancy for assistance with public engagement on these projects and the development of a formal MCT Trails Master Plan.
Morrison also mentioned that MCT is pursuing electric driver relief vehicles and corresponding infrastructure as well as a strategy to right-size the bus fleet by replacing larger buses with smaller shuttle-sized light-duty vehicles.
Elected officials attending the Dec. 16 press conference included Mayors Darren Carlton (East Alton), Art Risavy (Edwardsville), Mike Parkinson (Granite City), Kevin Hemann (Highland), Rich Schiefer (St. Jacob), Tyrone Echols (Venice), John Hamm (Madison), and Tom Stalcup (Wood River); Illinois State Representatives Amy Elik and Katie Stuart; Madison County Administrator Dave Tanzyus, and Madison County Board Members Stacey Pace and Bill Stoutenborough.
To learn more about the MCT Trails and Transit systems, visit www.mct.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story also appears in the January 2023 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.)