ST. CLAIR COUNTY - At the February St. Clair County Board meeting Monday night, a majority of members voted to approve a resolution that would spend $500,000 to conduct a feasibility study to see if a high-speed rail station could be built in East St. Louis. St. Clair County Board Member Nick Miller (R-Lebanon) said he believes the county spending a half million dollars to pay for a feasibility study is a direct insult to the taxpayers of St. Clair County.
“In November, Chairman Kern asked the County Board to raise fees on residents and businesses because the county couldn’t meet its budget. In December, Chairman Kern first asked residents to vote for a sales tax increase to fund a jail renovation he’s known we’ve needed for years. Meanwhile, Mid-America Airport is projected to have a $1.4 million budget shortfall in 2014. Yet somehow Chairman Kern can conveniently find a half million dollars to start the process of building a train station in East St. Louis,” Miller said.
The $500,000 for the study will come from the St. Clair County Transit District and will be used to aid the state's Department of Transportation with the design and planning of the station. The proposed station would be adjacent to the MetroLink on River Park Drive. The proposed high-speed rail system has proven controversial, as many states have looked at creating a similar system and have decided against it. The rail line is supposed to run from St. Louis to Chicago.
“Numerous non-partisan experts who have looked at the ‘high-speed’ rail plans, and who do not have a political agenda, have said this idea will, pardon the pun, never leave the station. The engineering is unproven, there are too many stops, the ridership numbers are illusionary, and the costs are out of control. It can’t be paid for, it won’t reach high speeds, there aren’t enough people willing to pay to use it, and the designs are still in their infancy,” Miller said.
“We’re really talking about ‘marginally faster train service at a huge cost,’ at best. Why should we spend $500,000 that we do not have to ‘plan’ something that is never going to happen?”
Miller said this is another example of St. Clair County politicians spending money for no good reason.
“The only thing Chairman Kern does at high-speed is raise taxes and spend money, and the people I hear from on a daily basis are getting really tired of it,” Miller said.
Monday night, the board voted to fund the study with a 22 to 5 vote. The members voting ‘No’ were: Ed Cockrell, Frank Heiligenstein, Craig Hubbard, Nick Miller, and Dave Tiedemann.