“We’re at the end of the second construction season. The first construction season we really focused on utilities, road works, all the work needed to prepare the ground for the actual large construction,” explains Cormier. “At the same time in 2011, we started work on the stations and we’ve completed this year the elevated guide way segments, so that’s a 1.5-km-long elevated guide way.”
Construction on the elevated guide way was completed in 10 months. “That was pretty quick. That was one of the big milestones this year.”
Cormier adds: “While it will obviously provide a new transportation option, it will also have lot of positive impact on those neighborhoods. For example, as part of the project we’ll also have a transit-oriented development, so near Westbrook station we’ll have retail and residential use, we’ll have mixed use that will be integrated with the station.”
In addition to the West LRT line, Calgary Transit is also in the process of working on a 1.8-mile extension to the northeast line to Saddletowne, which includes two new stations. There is also an extension project on the northwest line to the community of Tuscany, which will be 1.4 miles and includes one new station.
Charlotte Area Transit System Lynx Blue Line
Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) opened its light rail system, Lynx Blue Line, in November 2007. It was the first rapid transit line in North Carolina. The line runs from Center City Charlotte south 9.6 miles, with 15 stations and seven park-and-rides.
Before construction could begin, CATS had to remove more than 500 Schweinitz’s sunflowers from the railroad right-of-way. According to CATS, the Schweinitz’s sunflower is known to grow only in the Piedmont areas of North Carolina and South Carolina and was listed as endangered on May 7, 1991 under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The sunflowers were moved to a preserved area of Mecklenburg County.
Currently, CATS is working on a 9.4-mile extension. The Blue Line Extension (Northeast Corridor) will extend north from Ninth Street in Center City through the North Davidson (NoDa) and University areas, terminating on the UNC Charlotte campus, explains Judy Dellert-O’Keef, communications officer, CATS.
The final Environmental Impact Statement was completed in August 2011. Dellert-O’Keef explains that the final EIS was published into the federal register Oct. 14 and the review and comment period will go through Nov. 14.
“Right now if everything goes according to plan and our schedule, we’re anticipating construction starting in the fall of 2013,” Dellert-O’Keef says.
Ridership for the existing Lynx Blue Line averages more than 15,000 average weekday daily riders, according to Jean Leier, CATS public relations manager.
“It’s projected to have 24,500 average weekday trips by 2035,” says Leier. “That’s both lines; the one currently and the one we’re looking at have several ridership generators along them already with several transit-oriented development and redevelopment opportunities along those lines as well.”
There aren’t any other extension projects on the docket for the Lynx Blue Line, however Dellert-O’Keef says a Red Line task force has been looking into the possibilities of moving CATS commuter rail forward, which would go about 30 miles north of Charlotte.
“That one doesn’t qualify for the New Starts program, so the task force is working with the state of North Carolina and on that task force are some of the mayors that stood on our metropolitan transit commission and they are charged with right now with how to fund that line and move that line forward,” explains Dellert-O’Keef.