FTA's nod will allow CATS to apply for federal funding of up to $63 million, or roughly half of the projected cost of the 2.5-mile extension. Last year Charlotte failed to capture any FTA Small Starts funding for the streetcar route. Phase 1 of the Gold Line, totaling 1.5 miles, currently is under construction. CATS seeks an eventual buildout of 10 miles for the Gold Line.
"Entering into Phase 2 is a step in the right direction to increasingly serve the public with transit services that promote a thriving community," CATS CEO Carolyn Flowers said to local media.
Charlotte City Council last month approved spending $12 million in local funds to conduct additional planning. CATS officials say that if they land the $63 million grant, part of that money will be used to repay the city's $12 million investment. A similar approach was used to advance the second phase of CATS Blue Line light rail transit (LRT), also now under construction.