Watch Now: Multimillion-Dollar Public Safety and Transit Center Coming to East St. Louis | State and Region

Nearly $10 million in state money will pay for a new public safety and transit operations building at Emerson Park Station in East St. Louis.

The two-story, 16,000 square foot building at 905 N. 11th St. is expected to take 20 months to construct. If all goes according to plan, state money will cover the full cost, said St. Clair County Transit District General Manager Ken Sharkey.

Emerson Park is the penultimate MetroLink and bus terminal in Illinois before crossing into Missouri.

The station will house the offices of the St. Clair County Transit District, the Sheriff’s Department and a 911 call center.

“This installation answers many questions the public has about subway safety,” St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern said Wednesday at a news conference in East St. Louis.

Proximity to MetroLink and buses will allow dispatchers to quickly communicate with agents and transit operators in the event of a problem, Kern said. Fiber optic cables will connect MetroLink stations along the entire bi-state route to Emerson Park station.

“Fast communications, that’s one of the big weaknesses we had on Metro that we’re addressing with this setup,” Kern said. “There are people who depend on this means of transportation…every day to get to work, to be able to support their families and we want to be able to provide that to them in a safe way. This building helps us do that. .”

Demolition of the existing station building is expected to begin in early summer, Sharkey said. MetroLink rail and bus service will not be interrupted.

After the Illinois Department of Transportation gives final approval for state funding for the project, the county will begin soliciting bids. Bid amounts will determine whether the state’s $9.9 million will cover all costs, Sharkey said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, such a project would typically take 14 months, but it could take up to 20 months to complete with supply chain and labor issues, Sharkey said.

The state money comes from Governor JB Pritzker’s Illinois Rebuild Plan, a $45 billion infrastructure package passed in 2019. State Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, said the Emerson Park project represents an investment in “neglected and underinvested” communities. for decades.”

“With continued investment here, we will uplift the entire Metro East region,” Greenwood said.

At the Belleville Transit Center, which is being renovated, Chestnut Health Systems will double its staff to help users struggling with mental health issues and homelessness. Staff will use public transportation in Illinois, including to and from Emerson Park, Sharkey said.

The governor also announced $21 million for the U.S. Central Port District in Granite City, including $13 million for a sediment reduction project in the Port of Madison, where barges are loaded.

Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said ports “provide a gateway between your region and a global market.” Illinois moves 1.2 billion tons of freight by road, rail, air and water each year, Osman said, including 108 million tons worth $31 billion moving on water.