Transformation project aims to connect Belleville transit center to community

·2 min read

A renovated and more colorful Belleville Transit Center was unveiled to the public at 718 Scheel Street in Belleville last week.

The once cold, concrete MetroLink station and MetroBus stop now includes new custom bike racks, shady pavilions, a Belleville city logo sign, benches and planters. Elevated window artwork was created by mixed media artist Genevieve Esson with inspiration from Belleville East and Belleville West High School students.

The total cost of the project was about $86,645, including $57,404 from St. Clair County Transit District. Other contributions were made by AARP in St. Louis ($7,000), the City of Belleville ($16,241) and the Realtor Association of Southwestern Illinois ($6,000). .

“What we’re trying to do is to create a warm, welcoming, colorful, bright, interactive area for people that use the transit to enjoy,” St Clair County Transit Managing Director Ken Sharkey said.

The theme of the makeover – which was designed by St. Louis-based engineering firm CBB – is “Art Grows in Belleville.”

Kim Cella, executive director for the Citizens for Modern Transit, said the citizens lets people see how transit can be much more a part of their community’s identity.

The Scheel Street stop is the third station along the Metro line to unveil a Transit Transformation Project overhaul. A MetroBus stop in Maplewood, Missouri was the first in August of 2020, followed by the Emerson Park Station in East St. Louis in June of last year.

A fourth project at the North Hanley Station in Missouri is already underway. Future transformations could be coming to the Fairview Heights and Fifth-and-Missouri station in East St. Louis, Cella said.

The unveiling of the Belleville Transit Center comes as mass transit in the metro-east sees an increase in ridership. From April 2021 to April 2022, bus service has increased by 23.1% and MetroLink light rail was up 29.2%, Sharkey said. Some of that surge, he said, can be owed to the return from COVID-related restrictions and higher gas prices.

But Cella says improvements to the transit stops also have created an improved environment for riders while “changing the dialogue on public transit.” Public input, whether they use mass transit or not, has been an important part of the planning, she said.

“We spend about six to eight months in that engagement process, finding out what they would like to see at their transit stops,” Cella said.