The city of Charlotte will be moving forward with a 26-mile light rail line that will run from Matthews, N.C., to uptown Charlotte and over to the airport in Gaston County. The City Council approved $50 million to start the design process. WSP USA will handle the first stage of the project.
How to pay for the Silver Line, however, is still up in the air. Voters just rejected a county-wide sales tax referendum on Nov. 5 that would have been used for arts and culture groups, parks and greenway projects and supplemental teacher pay. It did not include anything for transportation, but did give officials a gauge on how residents feel about tax increases. A current half-cent sales tax for transit projects is already being used.
City officials are divided on the Silver Line, which could cost as much as $4 billion. Councilman Braxton Winston says the line will connect the east and west sides and desegregate the city. Still, other members of the Charlotte City Council want more answers.
The WSP USA study will take about two to three years, and the city can opt out at any time.
A 9-mile light rail extension to UNC Charlotte was completed in 2018 and cost $1.2 billion, with 50 percent of the funds coming from the federal government.
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