CONSTRUCTION work is getting under way on the first phase of the extension of the St Louis MetroLink light rail network to serve St Clair County (Illinois), following a ceremony at Belleville on March 6. Scheduled for completion in 2001, the 28 km line will run east from the existing MetroLink terminal at Fifth & Missouri in East St Louis to Belleville Area College, serving eight stations.

Trains will operate on a 12 min headway, offering a 35min journey time from Belleville to the centre of St Louis. Officials estimate that daily ridership from the Illinois stations will reach around 15 000 at in 2010. One-third of the $339m cost is being paid by St Clair County’s dedicated half-cent sales tax, with the federal government contributing the remainder. Phase II, which would extend the route to Scott Air Force Base and MidAmerica Airport at a cost of $80m, is awaiting a decision on federal funding.

On May 1 MetroLink is due to open a second station at Lambert Field, the main St Louis airport, adjacent to the new east terminal. Passengers will be allowed to ride free between the main and east terminals under a subsidy arrangement between the airport and the Bi-State Development Agency, which runs the light rail network.

H Following three years of studies costing over $2m, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments has recommended construction of a light rail route along the congested Interstate 71 corridor. Costing an estimated $1·6bn, the 50 km route would link the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport to Kings Island in Warren County by way of central Cincinnati and the town of Blue Ash. Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority already owns more than 20 km of the route, formerly part of the Indiana & Ohio Railway. o