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Rail stop may be farther from NoDa core

Northeast Charlotte residents, perhaps feeling the pinch of $4-a-gallon gasoline, gave enthusiastic support Thursday night to the idea of extending Charlotte's light rail line to the northeast edge of Mecklenburg County.

But transit officials say they might hear a few more concerns Tuesday night, when they conduct the second of two public meetings to get public input on tentative plans for the 11-mile line that could be operating in five years.

“Most of what I heard was positive,” Danny Rogers, project manager for the Blue Line extension, said after Thursday's workshop at the Oasis Shriners Center in University City. “But there might be some tougher questions at the next meeting, due to issues regarding the location of the line and of the 36th Street station.”

Most of those at Thursday's meeting were from the University City area.

“I would love to see it – quickly,” said Claire Fallon, president of the Northeast Coalition, an organization of residential and business leaders.

Tuesday's meeting, at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church, will be closer to the two areas that Rogers mentioned.

The proposed Northeast light rail route on display at these meetings has two options in the North Tryon Street-Eastway Drive area. One path is along the already-existing rail tracks, but another proposal would shift the light rail route to North Tryon near Eastway, to serve a growing retail district there.

A few of those at Thursday's meetings were critical of the latter idea, saying it would be too expensive and siphon away money that could be used elsewhere on the route. Rogers said he expects to hear more of that this week.

The location of the 36th Street station also could be a problem for some residents.

Rogers said Charlotte Area Transit System originally planned for the station to be on the north side of 36th Street, serving the NoDa area. But the proximity of historic properties has forced the station to be moved to the south side.

“And we're still close to some historic properties,” Rogers said. “It's possible that we'll have to move the station to the other (west) side of the tracks.”

That would move the station to the other side of the rail tracks from NoDa. “And that means building a pedestrian bridge and other issues,” he said.

Some residents at Thursday's meeting had another concern, but they weren't upset with the light rail plans.

“We can't wait to see it happen,” said Chris Litaker, who lives in the Charcon Heights neighborhood off North Tryon Street near the I-85 connector to N.C. 49 and U.S. 29. “It will be great for our property values, and it will be really nice to ride the train up toward the speedway or to uptown.”

But Litaker and neighbors are upset with a Charlotte city plan for improvements in their neighborhood. That proposal includes building sidewalks.

“It will take away 20 feet of my yard,” Litaker said.

“We have half-acre lots and hate to lose that,” added neighbor Becky Corley.

But for most of those, the light rail plans seem great.

“Some of our students had some initial concerns about having passengers come onto our campus, but those concerns are gone now,” said Tim Ernst, student body president at UNC Charlotte. “I really like the idea, and I think most people at the university feel the same way.”

The updated Northeast light rail plan calls for a station on the UNCC campus, and another station on Mallard Creek Church Road, near apartments that are popular with students.

Northeast Charlotte residents, perhaps feeling the pinch of $4-a-gallon gasoline, gave enthusiastic support Thursday night to the idea of extending Charlotte's light rail line to the northeast edge of Mecklenburg County.

But transit officials say they might hear a few more concerns Tuesday night, when they conduct the second of two public meetings to get public input on tentative plans for the 11-mile line that could be operating in five years.

“Most of what I heard was positive,” Danny Rogers, project manager for the Blue Line extension, said after Thursday's workshop at the Oasis Shriners Center in University City. “But there might be some tougher questions at the next meeting, due to issues regarding the location of the line and of the 36th Street station.”

Most of those at Thursday's meeting were from the University City area.

“I would love to see it – quickly,” said Claire Fallon, president of the Northeast Coalition, an organization of residential and business leaders.

Tuesday's meeting, at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church, will be closer to the two areas that Rogers mentioned.

The proposed Northeast light rail route on display at these meetings has two options in the North Tryon Street-Eastway Drive area. One path is along the already-existing rail tracks, but another proposal would shift the light rail route to North Tryon near Eastway, to serve a growing retail district there.

A few of those at Thursday's meetings were critical of the latter idea, saying it would be too expensive and siphon away money that could be used elsewhere on the route. Rogers said he expects to hear more of that this week.

The location of the 36th Street station also could be a problem for some residents.

Rogers said Charlotte Area Transit System originally planned for the station to be on the north side of 36th Street, serving the NoDa area. But the proximity of historic properties has forced the station to be moved to the south side.

“And we're still close to some historic properties,” Rogers said. “It's possible that we'll have to move the station to the other (west) side of the tracks.”

That would move the station to the other side of the rail tracks from NoDa. “And that means building a pedestrian bridge and other issues,” he said.

Some residents at Thursday's meeting had another concern, but they weren't upset with the light rail plans.

“We can't wait to see it happen,” said Chris Litaker, who lives in the Charcon Heights neighborhood off North Tryon Street near the I-85 connector to N.C. 49 and U.S. 29. “It will be great for our property values, and it will be really nice to ride the train up toward the speedway or to uptown.”

But Litaker and neighbors are upset with a Charlotte city plan for improvements in their neighborhood. That proposal includes building sidewalks.

“It will take away 20 feet of my yard,” Litaker said.

“We have half-acre lots and hate to lose that,” added neighbor Becky Corley.

But for most of those, the light rail plans seem great.

“Some of our students had some initial concerns about having passengers come onto our campus, but those concerns are gone now,” said Tim Ernst, student body president at UNC Charlotte. “I really like the idea, and I think most people at the university feel the same way.”

The updated Northeast light rail plan calls for a station on the UNCC campus, and another station on Mallard Creek Church Road, near apartments that are popular with students.

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