Urban Fold

Light Rail a Boon for Charlotte and Beyond

Charlotte's light rail system has proven to be a major success in the city, spurring development and igniting the local economy. But as it expands, will the other communities it benefits join in the funding party?

"Back when urban junkies - myself included - dreamed that cities could center around train lines, we railed at the formula-oriented developers who could crank out only cul-de-sacs and subdivisions near the newest highway off-ramp. They ignored the possibility of putting apartment buildings and mixed-used projects beside a trolley line, even if a city could manage to get a rail line built."

"No longer. Now big international companies such as Cherokee Investment Partners, which is involved here in Charlotte, are poised - even eager - to swoop down, buy land and put up pedestrian-friendly businesses and homes around new transit stations. And they're being joined by plenty of competitors."

"Charlotte opened its $465 million, 15-stop, 10-mile "blue line" last November. LYNX, as it is called, has about 13,000 riders daily, well ahead of the low-ball federal projections. Now, the city and region are working on the many other ideas for lines and extensions. A total of 7,000 new condominiums are planned along the line."

"Seeing how successful Charlotte's new line is, I start believing what I first dismissed as hyperbole - that it was revolutionary."

Full Story: More than Just a Train

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