The Blue Line Extension (Northeast Corridor) is an extension of the successful LYNX Blue Line light rail service. The 9.3-mile alignment extends from Ninth Street in Center City through the North Davidson (NoDa) and University areas, terminating on the UNC Charlotte campus. By including the LYNX Blue Line Extension in a comprehensive transportation system that includes roads, buses, bus rapid transit and commuter rail, we can offer more choices and alternatives to congestion on I-85.
LYNX Blue Line Extension Project Update:
CATS reaches the last major milestone before construction! CATS CEO Carolyn Flowers reminds us, "It takes a Community to build a light rail line."
On Tuesday, October 16, 2012, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Peter Rogoff, City of Charlotte Mayor Foxx, Metropolitan Transit Commission Chair Harold Cogdell, CATS CEO Carolyn Flowers and state and local leaders celebrated the receipt of a Federal Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for the BLE. The Federal FFGA will provide 50 percent of the project costs for the BLE and is the last major funding source needed to advance the project towards construction.
On July 9, 2012, the FTA approved CATS' entry into Final Design on the BLE. This milestone allows the project to be developed from the 65 percent to the 100 percent design level and complete preparation of final construction plans, right-of-way acquisition, construction cost estimates, bid documents and utility relocation. Entry into Final Design also allows CATS to proceed with plans to enter into a Federal FFGA with the FTA, the point at which FTA commits to 50 percent funding for the project.
In December 2011, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) signed and issued the Record of Decision (ROD)
on the LYNX Blue Line Extension Project. The ROD is a major milestone in the federal process. The ROD is a report that states FTA's determination that NEPA has been completed for the project. The ROD describes the basis for FTA's decision, identifies alternatives that were considered, and summarizes specific mitigation measures that will be incorporated into the project. If the project is approved, then the applicant may proceed into the Final Design and construction phases, including right-of-way acquisitions.
On January 26, 2011, MTC members unanimously approved changes to the BLE project to reduce project costs and ensure its financial feasibility. The project will terminate at UNC Charlotte rather than at I-485, removing 1.2 miles of alignment and two stations. By shortening the project, CATS is able to keep key project elements that ensure a high quality system, reliable service, and safe and secure operations. To accommodate increased ridership at other stations, the project will include a parking deck at the JW Clay Blvd station and a combination of deck and surface parking at the University City Blvd station.
Other changes are as follows: service frequency will be slightly reduced; surface lots will be constructed at the Sugar Creek station rather than a parking deck; the park and ride lots at Tom Hunter and McCullough stations will not be built; and the project will not build a Vehicle Light Maintenance Facility at the Norfolk Southern Intermodal site on North Brevard Street, but will construct only a storage yard and dispatch building and up-fit the existing South Boulevard maintenance facility. CATS completed the Final Environmental Impact Statement in August 2011 and concluded 65% design for the project in December 2011.
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