Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Charlotte streetcar extension effort recharges

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By a 7-to-4 vote Tuesday evening, May 28, the Charlotte City Council approved plans to add a 2.5-mile extension to its nascent initial streetcar line.

The resumption of the effort hinges on a refocused effort to apply for federal funding, most likely through the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts program, to fund much of the capital cost instead of relying more heavily on local tax revenue, in particular property taxes.

The initial 1.5-mile, $37 million starter streetcar line, recently relabeled the CityLynx Gold Line, is under construction. It will be operated by Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS).

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, expected to be confirmed shortly as the new federal Secretary of Transportation, attended the meeting as an observer. Foxx has been a strong supporter of the streetcar project, often clashing the City Council and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCroy on the issue.