Charlotte, NC — Transit Plan Announced
Rail Transit Online – October 2002
A mixed bag of light
rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit would serve the greater Charlotte
area under a $2.9-billion, five-corridor transportation plan unveiled Sept.
18 by Charlotte Area Transit System CEO Ron Tober. The proposal now goes to
the Metropolitan Transit Commission, which is made up of local elected
officials and who are expected to vote in November on whether or not to
adopt it. The rail routes projected by Tober include:
The 11-mi. (17.7
km), 15-station South Line from uptown (the city’s downtown) to South
Boulevard near Pineville. Construction of the $340-million LRT project is
expected to get underway next year and be completed by 2006.
A Northeast LRT line
through the North Davidson area to a terminal near Interstate 485 with a
connecting busway to Concord Mills. This would be a three-phase
undertaking, with the first segment to 36th Street completed within 10
years, to I-485 within 15 years and to Concord Mills by 2025. LRT would
cost $107 million and the BRT section $14 million.
A commuter rail
route, to be finished about a decade from now, would link uptown with
Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville at an estimated cost of
A streetcar line on
Central Avenue and Beatties Ford Road would be completed from uptown to
the Plaza/Midwood area in 10 years and to Eastland Mall five years later,
at a cost of $102 million.
The BRT line would run
southeast to Matthews and west to the airport area. Activists living in the
areas to be served by buses were highly critical of the decision, saying
they deserve rail as much as other neighborhoods. But Tober said there
isn’t money to put LRT everywhere. “We will not be able to please
everyone,” he told The Charlotte Observer. “But we will be able to make
happen what voters asked for in 1998 — a strong rapid transit system.” He
also said the city is “…in good shape to get the federal money we need.” If
carried out as planned, this would be the most costly public works project
in the history of North Carolina.
Another streetcar line
to complement the Central Avenue/Beatties Ford Road route has been proposed
by Charlotte Center City Partners, an uptown business and promotion group.
It would operate on Trade Street, along with several bus lines, with most
other traffic shifted to parallel streets. The project would cost an
estimated $99 million, and together the two trolleys would connect numerous
entertainment, education and sports venues including the Convention Center
and three colleges. “It will enliven uptown,” City Councilwoman Lynn
Wheeler told The Charlotte Observer. “It will be a wonderful way to connect
so much — the restaurants, the arena, bars, neighborhoods.” Trade Street is
one of the city's key roads and serves its financial center. The two
proposed streetcars would be linked and, according to Tober, could be
running by 2012.