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Downtown Alton has been selected by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments as the recipient of a Great Streets Initiative grant.

The grant will consist of nearly $500,000 in planning assistance, which will help the community expand the way it thinks about streets and chart a course for implementing improvements.

“Rather than viewing a roadway solely as a way to move more automobiles faster, the goal of the St. Louis Great Streets Initiative is to trigger economic and social benefits by centering communities around interesting, lively and attractive streets that serve all modes of transportation,” Sara McGibany, executive director of Alton Main Street, said in this week's association newsletter. “Kudos to Deanna Barnes, deputy director of Planning & Development for the City of Alton, for her hard work on the application.”

Letters of support from over a dozen local organizations were received as part of the selection process. Public sessions will be planned in early 2019 to gather input from the citizens of Alton on how to improve the atmosphere of the streets of Downtown. Anticipated goals of the process are to increase safety by calming the speed of traffic, create welcoming and imaginative green spaces for people to enjoy, and design interpretative and wayfinding signage to help visitors navigate the district.

“The history of our area, recent investments, and the potential impact this scale of planning will have to fortify the community impressed the selection committee, who will now be working hand in hand with the City of Alton and its residents to develop a scope for the project. The next step will be to recruit professional consultants in a variety of specialized areas,” McGibany said.