Charlotte’s about to take another step toward it’s “big-city-with-small-town-charm” potential.
The Blue Line Extension is set to open to the public on Friday, March 16! I love the idea of any mass transit improvements. I’m all about sustainability and smart efficient design. With the ever growing population and existing and impending traffic challenges we need this!!!
The $1.1 billion light-rail extension will add 9.3 miles of rail and 11 stations from Uptown to UNC Charlotte. The federal government is paying for half of the construction costs, and the state and city are splitting the other half. It’s not a cheap project but I think it will be worth it.
The debut comes a little more than a decade after the original light-rail segment opened in November 2007. No, that’s not a typo. No one said change was fast! But I say better late than never. Good comprehensive mass transit opens up home buying possibilities to people no matter where they work. It’s easier to live farther from where you work when you aren’t doing the driving to and from home. The Blue Line will allow passengers to take a 45-minute trip from the outer belt in South Charlotte to the University.
Opening day should be a real test for the line as that’s the same day Charlotte hosts the first rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. That’s one way to test the system… open it up for the thousands of visitors in town! I have faith it’s going to be a smooth ride. An earlier test with reporters and city leader types went well.
The one-way Lynx ticket will cost the same as a bus fare: $2.20. That ticket allows passengers to transfer from bus to train or vice versa. Of course, you can also get a monthly or weekly pass.
If you want updates on the project you can follow the Facebook page.
Another reason I love mass transit is because of the development it creates that we get to take advantage of! The light-rail should help to create more walkable communities by bringing new development along the line. Already Crescent Communities has closed the sale of a 0.9-acre site near 36th street next to an apartment building known as Novel NoDa to Asana Partners. The plan is to develop retail on the site.
In all honesty, I think we need the rail system to continue to the airport and to the further reaches of Charlotte and surrounding areas. I’m not the only one! Charlotte leaders have indicated they would like to build more rail, but with little money available, there are no firm plans to move forward with more lines at this point. Budget is always a factor, isn’t it?
So I guess we’ll just have to enjoy the lines we have for now. I encourage you to take a ride. Explore the city. Give it a try. It’s all good!