Public open house focuses on renewed interest in North-South MetroLink line

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ST. LOUIS – There is renewed talk of a MetroLink expansion. People were invited to attend an open house to discuss the possibility of adding a new light rail line that runs north and south through downtown.

Leaders say if the Northside-Southside light rail comes to St. Louis it’s still about 10 years out, but could make a big difference to 30-percent of people who live in that area and don’t have a car according to a new transit survey.
But many still have questions.

"Just coming to see if our money could be better spent on the current system versus bringing a new system in and just trying to process if a new system is beneficial to our region," says Catina Wilson.

This is just one in a series of open houses to gauge public interest in the proposed line, give people a chance to offer suggestions and ask officials about the plan.

Marcie Meystrik, the Corridor Planning Coordinator says the new open system includes 17 miles of track with 29 stops.  It would run from Goodfellow and Natural Bridge to I-55 and Bayless.

"This type of light rail system can help spur development across stations and it's brought billions of dollars across the country in other cities and we're hoping to see things like that.  We also have to consider things like traffic since it will be taking up some of the traffic lanes that are currently used by cars,” she explains.

The project is estimated to cost nearly $1.3 billion, a quarter of that would come from Prop 1 passed by voters last year and another quarter would have to come from federal grants.  Meystrik says without it the light rail proposal would grind to a haul.

But safety is another big concern on rider’s minds.

"I think the best way to make it safer is by more people riding and it takes a little bit of courage and it's taken a lot of dedication but riding my bike and taking public transportation I've never been healthier in my life and it changes your view of the city," says Charles Hatch.

Wilson says, "They have to come up with some kind of way to make people feel safe, I don't know if it's more officers.  I don't know if it's St. Louis County, St. Louis City but I wish they'd figure it out because you have people's lives at risk not only the people that ride in public but you also have the drivers and the people that are actually trying to make this system work."

There's another meeting to discuss the plan Thursday night from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club on North Grand.

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