NC: Commuter rail 'essential' from Charlotte to Lake Norman, former mayor says

The Red Line is a proposed but for now, stalled, transit project that would run commuter trains from Charlotte to Mooresville.

The Charlotte Observer

Jan. 1--Former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary Anthony Foxx on Tuesday called commuter rail from Charlotte to Lake Norman "essential" to addressing the region's transportation needs. 

"The airport connection is a good idea, maybe out to Gaston, so is Independence Corridor," Foxx tweeted about two other projects in the Charlotte Area Transit System's long-range 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan.

"But I still think the Red Line is essential."

The Red Line is a proposed but for now, stalled, transit project that would run commuter trains from Charlotte to Mooresville. Other transit options -- namely Interstate 77 toll lanes and rapid bus transit -- are short-term solutions, according to Foxx.

Foxx was Charlotte's mayor from 2009 to 2013 and he served as the top federal transportation official under President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017. Since then, the Davidson College graduate has worked as chief policy officer for the ridesharing company Lyft, and as an advisor for a company called Related Infrastructure, according to his LinkedIn page.

He lives in Chevy Chase, Md., for his work but considers North Carolina home, he said on Twitter.

His comments on a transit option running parallel to I-77, from Charlotte to Mooresville and through other Lake Norman communities came in response to a frustrated tweet from a driver who sat in congested traffic this week.

Plans to operate the proposed Red Line on an existing rail line owned by Norfolk Southern have been on the shelf for years.

In 2012, Norfolk Southern called government plans to operate the Red Line on the company's tracks "fatally flawed" and based on invalid assumptions, The Charlotte Observer reported at the time. The $452 million project would have run commuter trains on Norfolk Southern's "O" Line tracks from Charlotte to southern Iredell County.

Foxx says there was a meeting in Washington, D.C. of officials from the railroad as well as officials from local, state and regional transportation agencies. The meeting was about federal funds for the Gateway Station, a transportation hub planned for uptown Charlotte.

"I was surprised to learn (then) that the Red Line did not have an entry point," Foxx said in a tweet Tuesday.

On Twitter Wednesday, Foxx told The Charlotte Observer that "rail offers consistent travel times and attracts housing and development. You don't need to leave the region to see it. Growth will eventually catch up to roads. You don't need to leave the region to see that either.

"We've got good leaders thinking about it and working on it," Foxx said. "My point is -- don't give up, play long ball as a region and stick together."

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