Contact: Angela Gates
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced an agreement to provide Charlotte with $580 million to extend the LYNX Blue Line light rail system from downtown Charlotte to the city’s University of North Carolina campus. The new extension will effectively double the length of the system so that thousands more residents and students in the rapidly growing region can conveniently access light rail.
“The Obama Administration is committed to helping fast-growing cities like Charlotte build a modern, efficient transportation network that will attract economic development and help the region to manage growth and reduce congestion,” said Secretary LaHood. “Across America, we’re investing in projects like this one that are built to last and will keep our economy moving forward.”
Over the last decade, Charlotte, home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, has grown faster than any other urban area with a population of one million or more, according to the U.S. Census. Light rail ridership has mirrored that growth, far exceeding expectations with more than 19 million riders since the line opened in 2007, and more than 15,000 riders on an average weekday.
“We continue to support Charlotte’s efforts to develop a public transportation system that works for everyone,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, who was in Charlotte to announce the funding agreement along with Congressman Mel Watt, Mayor Anthony Foxx and local officials.
“Extending light rail northward to establish a direct new transit link between two of UNC’s flagship campuses opens up new opportunities for students and residents throughout Mecklenburg County,” he added.
The 9.3 mile LYNX Blue Line light rail extension will add service along what will become an 18.6-mile corridor in Northeast Charlotte and will help to reduce congestion along Interstate 85 and US 29, where commercial and residential growth is expected to continue.
The $580 million federal share of the $1.2 billion project is provided to the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) through FTA’s Capital Investment (New Starts) Program. The remaining cost is covered by state and local funding.
Today’s funding announcement is the latest in a series of investments in Charlotte’s transportation future made by FTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). In December 2011, Secretary LaHood announced that DOT would provide $18 million through its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program to expand capacity on the existing LYNX Blue Line by enabling CATS to build additional power substations and extended platforms at three stations to accommodate more riders during peak hours and special events. Preliminary design work is under way.