From gray to great: East St. Louis stop gets colorful makeover

Aug. 24, 2021
St. Clair County Transit District, Citizens for Modern Transit and AARP partner to transform Emerson Park Transit Center into a welcoming vibrant space.

The Emerson Park Transit Center in East St. Louis, Ill., has a colorful new space for transit patrons to wait to board a bus or MetroLink train thanks to a transformation project by the St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD), St. Louis Metro Transit, AARP and Citizens for Modern Transit.

The Transit Stop Transformation project at Emerson Park Transit Center turned gray concrete into a vibrant jazz themed space with shaded seating, canopies, flowers and greenery and a mural inspired by design concepts submitted by East St. Louis High School students.

The project is part of Citizens for Modern Transit and AARP’s efforts surrounding “placemaking” around transit, which is a concept that transforms places people simply pass through in route to their next destination into active, engaging corridors that connect individuals and neighborhoods by offering access to products, services, activities and green space.

This is a second placemaking project following completion of the Maplewood MetroBus Stop Transformation project in June 2020.

“This project is a part of a larger investment that the St. Clair County Transit District will be making in this station, which includes a new multi-million-dollar facility to arrive in the next couple of years to house safety and security for transit,” said Chair of SCCTD’s Board of Trustees Herb Simmons.

To celebrate the transit center’s transformation, a community event was held Aug. 21, featuring remarks from local officials and those involved in the project and included recognition of the three high school students who helped inspire the mural.

“When we arrived last fall, we were faced with a sea of gray – from the walls to the concrete,” said Kimberly Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit. “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 CBB/PGAV team completed the planning and design for the project; Added Dimension, LLC, oversaw community engagement, and the mural was created by Jayvn Solomon of L.O.T.U.S. Labs, with inspiration from East St. Louis High School students Zemerion, Taychelle and Jomari. Other contractors and vendors involved in the project include Hank’s Excavating, Lake Construction, Shade Guard, WAUSAU Tile, Terrabound Solutions, Tramar Contracting, Engraphix, Honer Monument and Effinger’s Nursery.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.