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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2000

Governor Awards $60 Million Illinois FIRST Bond for MetroLink

BELLEVILLE -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced a $60 million Illinois FIRST  grant for construction of the MetroLink light rail line extension from Southwestern Illinois College to Scott Air Force Base.

"Building the MetroLink extension is one of the most important investments for the Metro East area and St. Clair County, and I am proud the state is able to play a role in this project," Ryan said.

"The light rail line will serve two large commuting centers-- the college, which has an enrollment of 13,000 students each semester, and the air force base, which employs more than 10,000 people. In addition, MetroLink will be an important component in the region's future economic prosperity by attracting development along its corridor," he said.

The $60 million state grant will help fund the 3.5-mile segment from Southwestern Illinois College to Scott Air Force Base. It is part of the 26-mile extension of MetroLink in St. Clair County.

The Federal Transit Administration is providing $243.2 million and St. Clair County is providing $95.2 million for the first 17 miles of construction. The first part of the St. Clair County extension, from East St. Louis at 5th and Missouri to the college, is currently under construction, with service scheduled to start in May 2001. Construction of the 3.5-mile extension is scheduled to get under way this fall. Service is anticipated to start in the summer of 2003.

In addition to area state legislators, Governor Ryan was joined by a host of federal, state and local officials. Ryan commended U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, for continuing to work to secure federal funds for the long overdue transit project. "I want to thank the area legislators who supported me in getting the Illinois FIRST initiative enacted, making the state's contribution possible," Ryan said.

When completed, MetroLink will serve commuters from Illinois to Lambert Field in St. Louis, a distance of 45 miles.



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