Metro-East Area News Briefs

Chronicle Media

The new Regional Multimodal Transportation Center
(Photo courtesy of City of Alton)

Amtrak comes to Alton Regional Multimodal Center

Amtrak officially began passenger rail service to Alton’s new Regional Multimodal Transportation Center Sept. 13.

The new station, on the former site of the Robert P. Wadlow Municipal Golf Course near Homer Adams Parkway, is part of a major upgrade along Amtrak’s St. Louis-to-Chicago Amtrak — designed to bring high-speed rail service to the region.

Alton city officials see the new multimodal transportation center as a critical part of plans to revive the city’s economy.

High speed Amtrak service to Alton is expected to begin this fall. Madison County Transit began providing bus service to the new station on Aug.6. Plans call for the new station to be linked to a new network of walking and biking trails.

Riders can now use the Amtrak mobile app to access the Lyft app and request a ride to the station. New users of Lyft will receive $5 off each of their first four Lyft rides by using the promo code AMTRAKLYFT.

The new Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center offers ample parking, free Wi-Fi, enclosed bicycle lockers and connections to Madison County Transit. The station also provides a spacious waiting room with an exhibit that details rail history in Alton and the region.

As part of the corridor upgrade, Amtrak is also moving to a new station at Carlinville as well as replacing rails and ties on all track.

The new multimodal facility, built with a mixture of federal, state, county and municipal funds, is about 10 times the size of the historic, 89-year-old Alton Station, 3400 College Ave., which closed last week.

City officials are now seeking bids for redevelopment for the old station building. A pair of open houses to bid goodbye to the old station, were held over the summer.

It’s which has a key goal of boosting the high speed to 110 mph along 75 percent of the route and shaving an hour or more off the overall trip time. Currently, Amtrak trains do up to 79 mph along the route.

The new multimodal center  is approximately two miles northwest of the old station.

To accommodate the move to the new station, has made two minor adjustments to its Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle train service:

— Southbound trains 21/321/421, 301, 303, 305 and 307 now arrive and depart at the new Alton station two minutes earlier than in the past.

— Northbound trains 22/322/422, 300, 302, 304 and 306 will arrive and depart Alton two minutes later.

For Amtrak reservations and information, visit, use the national passenger rail line’s free mobile apps, speak with station personnel, or call at 1-800-USA-RAIL (800) 872-7245).

Jackson Center plans STEM center for disadvantaged populations

Under its new “STEM Meets Humanities” initiative, Edwardsville’s Mannie Jackson Center is hoping to address social issues in disadvantaged communities through science, technology, engineering and mathematic.  

The Jackson Center last week announced plans to renovate the neighboring Kraft Food building, 1310 N. Main St., as the headquarters for a STEM learning program for youth in underserved areas of Madison County.

Youths at the center will engage in STEM-related activities to address social issues such as the creation of sustainable food sources through urban gardening, teaching children core mathematics for everyday problem solving, and the use of robotics to address issues such as loneliness among the elder population, according to Mannie Jackson, founder and president of the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities Foundation.

Since opening in 2015, the Jackson Center has sought to address social issues with a variety of school-based instructional programs which teach children to problem-solve using traditional humanities disciplines such as history, literature and philosophy.

“This (STEM) initiative is the second phase of our mission,” said Jackson, a native of Edwardsville and former owner of the Harlem Globetrotters.

“In 2015-16, the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities headquarters opened and we have engaged more than 5,000 people since,” Jackson reported

The new STEM building is scheduled to open In November.

Subsidence closes Wolf Branch middle school building

Structural damage, due to mine subsidence, forced Wolf Branch School District 113 officials Sept. 13 to transferred all middle school operations to the district’s elementary school.

Substantial cracking observed by school personnel in the Swansea middle school’s cafeteria, gym, locker rooms and weight room during the weekend of Sept. 10, prompted the district to close off those areas as classes resumed the following Monday. Additional areas, including the kitchen serving area and band room, were closed the next day.

Contracted by district administrators, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) advised the Wolf Branch Middle School sits over of the abandoned Summit Mine. The gradual collapsing of the mine shaft is causing subsidence problems over a three-acre area around Swansea, according to the IDNR.

“While extra space at the (Wolf Branch) Elementary School is limited, the administration has developed a plan to utilize nearly every square inch of the building,” Superintendent Scott Harres said in a message to parents Sept. 12.

SEC chairman addresses Scott AFB personnel

He may have been more likely expected at a meeting of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Board or one of region’s powerful business organizations, but Jay Clayton, the new chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), turned up at Scott Air Force Base, Aug. 23, to address about 500 officers and enlisted personnel on financial issues.  Clayton was named in May by President Donald Trump to head the agency, which oversees the New York Stock Exchange and most other U.S financial markets.

In response to questions from base personnel, Clayton, a former Wall Street attorney, advised Scott personnel to consider market-related risks that may be encountered as Americans increasing switch from traditional pensions to Thrift Saving Plans and be wary of “affinity programs” — in which salespeople use a common characteristic, such as a military background, to appeal to investors.  Such programs may be havens for financial scam artists, he said.


–Metro-East Area News Briefs–