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Light-rail work will cause some road closings

With the scheduled opening of the extended light-rail line a little more than two years away, Charlotte-area residents likely will start seeing visible signs of construction in the early part of 2014.

Crews have been relocating underground utility lines for months, but the more obvious above-ground work on the north line will begin in the first quarter of the year.

When finished, the Charlotte Area Transit System’s Blue Line Extension will run from uptown to the UNC Charlotte campus, covering 9.3 miles.

Combined with the south line, it will give commuters nearly 19 connected miles of light-rail service from Pineville to the University area.

“The clearing you see now is to prepare for underground utility relocation,” said Judy Dellert-O’Keef, a CATS spokeswoman.

She said new water and sewer lines are being installed along the length of the extension, and some road closures are likely in January.

CATS officials held a public meeting in December and said the civil construction phase is scheduled to start in March. That will include bridges, new roadways, traffic signals and retaining walls.

“They’ve already done a lot of the clearing for the work,” Dellert-O’Keef said.

For now, crews remain in the advanced utility relocation phase. That includes construction of retaining walls along the corridor.

“These walls will provide support to the widened roadway along North Tryon Street,” Dellert-O’Keef said.

She said motorists can expect some right-lane closures along the route during this work.

She also said a closure on J.W. Clay Boulevard is expected sometime in the first half of January, for water line installation. That will affect outbound lanes of J.W. Clay Boulevard, on the university side of North Tryon Street.

Work on the next phase – building the bridges, roadways and traffic signals – is scheduled to start in late January, although utility relocation will continue after that on the northern end of the extended line.

CATS officials hope to have the extension built and to begin testing the line in November 2016, with service to the public slated for spring 2017.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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