Updated 10/16/2012 05:39 PM
Federal funding gives green light for Blue Line light rail extension
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CHARLOTTE—The LYNX Blue Line received the green light to expand to the University Area.
Tuesday, the Federal Transit Administration inked a deal committing to pay for half of the $1.2 billion light-rail extension. The 9.3 mile extension will run from 7th Street in Uptown to the UNC Charlotte campus. It will include 11 light rail stations and four parking facilities along the way. Mayor Anthony Foxx and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff signed the federal grant agreement and gave the project the go-ahead.
"It's a win,” said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. “This is going to be the largest ridership portion of our light rail system and to be able to get it done in a recession is a big deal."
The Federal Full Funding Grant Agreement is the largest federal grant in the city's history. It is estimated the construction alone will generate more than 7,000 jobs and infuse $250 million in payroll to the local economy.
"It's going to decongest Highway 29 and Interstate-85. It's going to cleanup the air and it's going to give a lot of people an opportunity to keep money in their wallet rather than hand it over at the gas pump," said Rogoff.
With groundbreaking on the extension still more than a year away, city representatives such as Mayor Foxx continue to rally around other transportation projects like the streetcar and the proposed Red Line commuter rail project from Charlotte to Iredell County.
"If we don't do that, we may be 20 years before we see another project happen and I don't think these growth patterns are going to have confidence in the system if we don't keep the system growing" said Foxx.
The N.C. DOT and CATS will fund the remaining 50 percent of the project. Construction is scheduled to begin in November 2013 with an opening date set for 2017.