I recently visited with friends in Normal, Illinois. On my way out of town I caught a glimpse of Uptown Station, or as the official sign refers to it, the Normal Multimodal Transportation Center.
I didn’t have time to view the new facility up close and personal–had to get home to the dog–but I did manage to take a picture of the Chicago-bound Amtrak train behind the station. (Closer to the camera: the children’s museum next door.) A big thanks to Ray Keener for the rest of these pictures.
Wow. I’ve got to get back to Normal right away (it could happen). From the look of things, the city should have invited Dan Aykroyd to the July 14 dedication. I can just hear him say it’s a train station and a bus station and a city hall.
Because it’s all of those things. It’s a transfer point and a destination. It’s in the heart of town and next door to Illinois State University. (It’s also within walking distance of the mayor’s business: Vitesse Cycle Shop.)
Here’s what Bloomington resident Mike Matejka had to say about the new building on the WJBC Forum:
“…Normal is betting that the future will be based on accessible public transportation. A necessary foundation to this is continued train travel to Chicago and St Louis, hopefully at higher speeds within a year or two.
“But it also means bus transport to Peoria, Champaign and O’Hare, city buses and bike trails…
“And don’t forget the electric cars and the needed charging stations. Even little things make a difference. Just off the traffic circle is a public bike repair station, with hand tools and a bicycle pump. This low-cost item sends a message that Normal is thinking differently.”
Differently, indeed. If I lived in Normal, I’d regularly pack a folding bicycle for the train into Chicago.
And if I lived in Chicago, I’d be just as likely to take the trip in reverse, not just for the cornfields, Abraham-Lincoln-traveled-this-way marker and other forms of entertainment–I’m a big fan of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts about three miles south of Uptown Station–but to see how at least one creative corner of downstate Illinois is bringing people back to the city, reconnecting residents and their government (in other words, with themselves) at the same time it makes it easier to get around by bus, train and, yes indeed, bicycle.
Nice time-lapse of the construction, here.
Note: The twin cities of Bloomington and Normal are about 40 miles east-southeast of Peoria. The Bloomington/Normal metro area (2011 population of McLean County: 170,556) has less than half the population of the Peoria metro center (2011 population of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall and Stark counties: 379,576). The Peoria area has no train service. Service to Chillicothe, north of Peoria, ended in 1996.