Citizens for Modern Transit – in partnership with the St. Clair County Transit District, AARP in St. Louis and Metro Transit – unveiled the “Transit Stop Transformation” Project this past weekend at the Belleville Transit Center, located at 718 Scheel Street in Belleville, Ill. A celebration got underway at 12:30 p.m., featuring formal remarks by local officials and stakeholders, special recognition of Belleville East and Belleville West High School students who helped inspire the vision behind the mural, the ability for those in attendance to explore the new space and enjoy a free music festival from 1 to 5 p.m. with live, local bands. The opening comes after a months-long process of getting input from transit riders, area residents, elected officials and stakeholders through a series of virtual Design Workshops, surveys and community events – and completing construction.
“When we arrived late last year, we were faced with a lot of grey space,” said Kimberly Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit, who helped to spearhead the transformation. “Today, we welcome you to a completely transformed area that is a colorful, inviting, interactive, vibrant space that is sure to energize transit riders and the community at large.”
The project team overseeing the “Transit Stop Transformation” Project at the Belleville Transit Center converted the concrete area between the bus bays and MetroLink entrance into an interactive, playful and engaging space, boasting a vibrant-colored “Art Grows in Belleville” theme. The revitalized space features new custom bike racks, shade structures, a Belleville city logo sign, benches, planters and elevated window artwork that was created by award-winning painter and mixed media artist Genevieve Esson, whose work is also featured as part of the “Transit Stop Transformation” project at the Maplewood MetroBus Stop in Maplewood, Mo. This project serves as an extension to the ongoing efforts made by CMT and AARP in St. Louis to raise awareness about placemaking around transit.This is a concept that transforms places people simply pass through in route to their next destination – like MetroLink and MetroBus Transit Centers – into active, engaging corridors that connect individuals and neighborhoods by offering access to products, services, activities and green space.
“AARP works with communities throughout the nation to become livable places for people of all ages,” noted Sheila Holm, community outreach director for AARP in St. Louis. “Projects like this are critical to making sure transit is more a part of the fabric of the community.”
The “Transit Stop Transformation” Project at the Belleville Transit Center was led by St. Clair County Transit District, Citizens for Modern Transit, AARP in St. Louis and Metro Transit. The St. Louis-based transportation engineering and planning firm CBB completed the planning and design, while Added Dimension, LLC, oversaw community engagement. The elevated window artwork was created by award-winning painter and mixed media artist Genevieve Esson, with inspiration from Belleville East and Belleville West High School students. Other contractors and vendors involved in the project include Lake Contracting, Inc., Shade-Guard, WAUSAU Tile, Park & Play Structures, Warning Lites of Southern Illinois, LLC, Cushing Co., Engraphix Architectural Signage, Weiss Monument Works and Effinger’s Nursery. This project was funded by St. Clair County Transit District, Citizens for Modern Transit’s Pilot Funds Program, AARP in St. Louis, the City of Belleville and the REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois.
The “Transit Stop Transformation” project at the Belleville Transit Center is the third transformation of its kind in the St. Louis region. Transformations were also completed at the Emerson Park Transit Center in East St. Louis, Ill., in August 2021 and at a MetroBus stop in Maplewood, Mo., in June 2020. Each project showcases a deep understanding of and commitment to equitable development around transit, the possibility of play, the ability for creative interventions to produce long-term impact for residents of all ages and the need for collaboration to succeed. The partners work with stakeholders to build consensus and policies to move permanent development forward – and ultimately establish lasting developments at transit stops that are helping to improve safety and security, build ridership and increase activity around transit. Each project also reinforces the element of fun that comes with activating space and will be maintained via partner commitments to ensure sustainability for years to come.
“The transformation at the Emerson Park Transit Center and now the Belleville Transit Center in St. Clair County have been really remarkable,” Herb Simmons, Chair of St. Clair County Transit District’s Board of Trustees. “Aside from being visually appealing, each has helped to further foster community. We look forward to partnering on other transformations in the future.”
A fourth “Transit Stop Transformation” project is currently in the works at the North Hanley Transit Center in St. Louis County. The final design concept for this project will be announced in early July and construction will get underway shortly thereafter. The transformation is set to open to the public in October. The St. Clair County Transit District is working to identify the next Transit Center for transformation in St. Clair County and hopes to announce the location in the coming months.