Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, North Carolina Governor Patrick McCrory, Charlotte Mayor Patsy Kinsey and other local officials celebrated the start of construction on the LYNX Blue Line extension from downtown Charlotte to the University of North Carolina (UNC) Charlotte campus.
The new extension will double the length of the existing light-rail system, create new development opportunities along the line and significantly expand transit options for thousands of residents and students in the rapidly growing Charlotte region.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing $580 million under a full funding grant agreement for the $1.16 billion project through FTA’s New Starts program. The remaining cost is covered by state and local funding.
“This project will create thousands of jobs during construction, create economic opportunity by connecting the city’s financial, high tech and cultural centers with the thriving UNC Charlotte campus,” said Administrator Rogoff. “The Blue Line extension is an important step in providing the world-class transportation system that Charlotte deserves.”
“This region took another step forward today in advancing rapid transit in the region,” said Mayor Kinsey. “Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and every day more and more people and businesses are choosing to make the Charlotte region their home. Investments in public transit are critical to recruiting and retaining area businesses and providing our citizens with choices in transportation.”
Charlotte Area Transit System officials estimate that the light-rail extension will create approximately 7,600 jobs during construction and more than double total light-rail ridership with more than 18,000 additional riders each weekday when the extension opens in 2017. The 9.3-mile extension will add service along what will become an 18.6-mile light-rail corridor in Northeast Charlotte and will help to reduce congestion along Interstate 85 and US Route 29, where commercial and residential growth is expected to continue.
The project is expected to be completed in March 2017.