St. Clair County to increase MetroLink access with extended trail system
The St. Clair County Transit District will extend a trail system to provide metro-east pedestrians and cyclists with greater access to MetroLink stations.
The 3.5-mile extension will weave through Dutch Hollow, a township in the county that was historically a mining area. The trail is set to open in 2019.
During the community outreach phase of the area’s MetroLink development, Taulby Roach, chief financial officer for the St. Clair County Transit District, said members of the public expressed the need for better access to MetroLink stations for pedestrians and cyclists.
“We saw this as a laudable public good to try to incorporate into MetroLink development,” Roach said. “And so over the years as funding has allowed, we’ve continued to build greater sections of MetroBikeLink to link with our transit asset.”
Because the project is in the bidding phase, Roach said he could not disclose exactly what the estimated cost of this extension will be. He said the construction will cost more than $1 million, but less than $5 million.
“One of the development strategies of this pedestrian and bicycle access is to create easier access to various subdivisions and residential areas along the line where there really wasn’t good pedestrian access to our stations,” Roach said. “We end up really fulfilling a two-fold purpose, one, that they have greater transit access, and two, that they have better and safer recreational access.”
This is one of two trail extensions that are in the works. The second is an eight-mile trail through southeast Belleville, designed to further connect subdivisions in the area.
Roach said that the first phase, which will link the county to the trail’s location, is almost finished. He said the hardest part will be constructing the bridge over Green Mount Road because it cuts through Eckert’s orchard. In the future, he said Eckert’s will also be able to use the bridge for their equipment.
“It makes sense from a transportation standpoint for the county to expand the capacity of Green Mount in the future, however that creates a difficulty for Eckert’s in that it bisects their property,” Roach said. “We’ve cooperatively worked on a bike trail loop project, which then also allows the orchard to use the bridge that we’re then going to build.”
When comparing the two extensions, he said the project through Dutch Hollow will be easier to complete because the bridge structures were made when developing MetroLink.
“Now that that work is over, we can use the construction right-of-way to build the biking trail,” he said. “That means we only have to pave. There are no bridge structures really that need to be built.”
Follow Emma on Twitter @ems_lorraine