Thursday, November 14, 2013

Charlotte eyes "Small Starts" streetcar funds

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Foiled in earlier attempts to land federal TIGER funds to expand its initial streetcar line, Charlotte, N.C., officials say they will continue to seek federal assistance, most likely through the "Small Starts" program.

Charlotte will submit an application to the Federal Transit Administration, according to local media, in order to build beyond its initial 1.5-mile CityLynx Gold Line streetcar. The city hopes to receive FTA approval in January or February, and would submit its Small Starts application next fall, in time for fiscal year 2015, in hopes of the submittal being approved.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) Marketing Manager Olaf Kinard said that, despite the city's efforts to obtain TIGER funding, "Small Starts has been our plan all along."

The initial 1.5-mile, $37 million line has received $25 million from FTA. Charlotte officials last May, after contentious debate, agreed to set aside about $63 million for 2.5 additional route miles. Construction began last December, with revenue service expected to begin in 2015.

CATS also is extending its Lynx light rail transit (Blue) line 9.7 miles to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus.