A New 26-Mile Light Rail Line Considered for Charlotte

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) would like to add an ambitious, expensive project to its capital investment plans, but funding the project is more daunting than the last time the system expanded.

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October 28, 2019, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Charlotte Light Rail

Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock

"Charlotte City Council is expected to decide Monday whether to take the first step toward the region’s largest infrastructure project, a 26-mile light rail line running from Matthews to Belmont in Gaston County," reports Bruce Henderson.

"The council’s approval of a $50 million contract to start preliminary work on the Silver Line would merely dip a toe in deep water," adds Henderson. The project, when complete, is estimated to reach a cost of $6 billion to $8 billion, with a completion date of 2030.

According to Henderson, the current state of federal politics makes funding for public transit a much more challenging proposition, further complicating the prospects for the project.

"[Charlotte Area Transit System Chief Executive Ron] Tober expects CATS will get federal and state grants to cover 40% to 50% of the Silver Line’s costs," according to Henderson. "But CATS also has new options to raise local financing, he added, including some that didn’t exist two decades ago," like a new half-cent sales tax, tax increment financing, regional partnerships, and public-private partnerships.

Thursday, October 24, 2019 in The Charlotte Observer

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