Charlotte Area Transit System: Visions to spend $6 million on three new light rail lines

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Gold line rendering
The Gold Line under construction: Trade and Tyron stop (Charlotte Area Transit System Rendering)

Charlotte wants to spend up to $6 billion to expand its light rail system to the airport and suburbs not currently served, the Charlotte Observer reports.

However, the city hasn’t finalized a plan to pay for the three new lines — each costing about $2 billion — to also extend services to areas like Matthews, to the southwest, and the northern suburbs towards Iredell County.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) CEO John Lewis told the newspaper he will give details about the plan to the system’s board this spring. Some of the money may come from President Donald Trump’s proposed trillion-dollar infrastructure investment plan, Lewis said.

“Because we’re behind, because of the impact of the recession, we’ve got to find a way to jump start it,” Lewis said. (http://bit.ly/2kzbIF8 ).

The Blue Line, running south to Interstate 485, is open, funded by a half cent sales tax approved in 1998. A second Gold line, northeast to UNC Charlotte, is under construction and will open this August.

But there is still no progress on other services.

“The Red Line was supposed to be the next logical line, and now we’re 20 years down the road,” Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla was quoted as saying. “To invest money, to look into an alternative when we have the lake, we have I-77 and we have a rail line right through our downtowns, I don’t think it’s really prudent to look at an alternative.”

The Observer report continues:

Charlotte City Councilwoman Vi Lyles said she thinks the city needs to expand its system because each new line built makes it more efficient.

“At some point you have to finish out a system. We can’t just do the Blue Line without having connectivity,” said Lyles, who is chairwoman of the Council’s Transportation and Planning Committee.