Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, North Carolina Gov. Patrick McCrory, Charlotte Mayor Patsy Kinsey, UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois, Mecklenburg Commission Chair Pat Cotham and Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) CEO Carolyn Flowers commemorated the beginning of construction for the LYNX Blue Line Extension (BLE) with an official groundbreaking near the future Ninth Street Station on July 18.
The 9.3 mile alignment will run from Center City Charlotte to the UNC Charlotte campus and include 11 light rail stations and four parking facilities. This $1.16 billion project is scheduled to begin service in 2017.
“This region took another step forward today in advancing rapid transit in the region,” said Charlotte 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.”
When the LYNX Blue Line Extension opens it will provide greater access to major employment centers like Charlotte Center City and University City, healthcare facilities like Carolinas Medical Center-University and Novant Presbyterian Hospital and higher learning institutions such as UNC Charlotte and Central Piedmont Community College.
"The reason we all have worked together so hard, so well, and for so long is that we have understood that the benefits to the city were too large and too significant not too – both in the job creation that would be necessary just to construct the rail line, and also in the long-term potential for development along the northeast corridor,” Chancellor Dubois said.
“The Federal Transit Administration, the state of North Carolina and the business community are instrumental partners as we work to complete the vision of connecting the region with rapid transit choices,” said CATS CEO Flowers. “CATS serves as a model across the country of how to build a successful transit system in conjunction with land use. By developing an integrated system we look forward to serving thousands of riders every day by giving them an alternative over congestion.”
Daily ridership on the BLE is estimated to be 18,000 when operations begin in 2017. That is in addition to the 16,000 daily riders on the LYNX Blue Line today. The completion of the BLE will give Charlotte more than 18 miles of rapid transit in the city.