Contact: Justin Nisly
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff today joined with Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx at Central Piedmont Community College to award the City of Charlotte with nearly $25 million for a streetcar line that will improve access to jobs, housing, and schools, and will spur economic development in the heart of one of the nation's fastest-growing metropolitan areas. They also called on Congress to immediately pass President Obama's American Jobs Act, which will invest in job-creating transportation projects like the Charlotte Streetcar all across the country.
"Putting American workers on transportation construction sites in cities like Charlotte is a crucial part of the President's vision for the future of this country," said Secretary LaHood. "Unemployed construction workers across the country are ready to roll up their sleeves right now. Congress needs to pass the American Jobs Act right away and to put America back to work."
Six stops will be built as part of the initial 1.5-mile section of the Charlotte Streetcar Project, including the Charlotte Transportation Center near Time-Warner Cable Arena, the city's Government Center, McDowell Street, Central Piedmont Community College, Travis Avenue and Presbyterian Hospital. This is the first phase of a planned 10-mile streetcar line that will serve the entire metropolitan Charlotte area.
"We are committed to helping Charlotte build innovative transportation options that connect local workers with housing and employment opportunities springing up around Center City," said Administrator Rogoff. "This project will provide jobs for construction workers today, as well as safe, reliable transit choices to residents for years to come."
The City of Charlotte has acquired three vintage streetcars to be used for the project, which is funded through the Federal Transit Administration's Urban Circulator Grant Program. The Charlotte Area Transportation System (CATS) will operate and maintain the streetcar system once it is constructed.
Also attending today's event were construction workers from the CATS North Davidson Bus Facility nearby, which was recently renovated and expanded with $20 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. Approximately 150 jobs were created over the last two years at the facility, which will improve the efficiency of operating and maintaining up to 200 buses.
Secretary LaHood also called on Congress to immediately pass an extension of the surface transportation bill, which is set to expire on September 30, so that crucial projects like the Charlotte Streetcar Project are not put in jeopardy. If Congress allows the current surface transportation extension to expire, more than 4,000 federal employees will immediately go without pay. If Congress delays actions for just 10 days beyond that, nearly $1 billion in funding that could be spent on construction projects across the nation would be lost. And if Congress waits even longer, almost 1 million workers could be in danger of losing their jobs over the next year.