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CATS adds $20M of projects to Blue Line extension

The Charlotte Area Transit System is adding three projects to the light-rail extension, which is scheduled to open in 2017. In this photo, construction takes place on the UNC Charlotte campus.
The Charlotte Area Transit System is adding three projects to the light-rail extension, which is scheduled to open in 2017. In this photo, construction takes place on the UNC Charlotte campus. Marty Price

The Charlotte Area Transit System is adding $20 million worth of projects to the Blue Line extension after the city realized it had extra money in the budget.

The $1.1 billion extension, which is under construction from uptown Charlotte to UNC Charlotte, is expected to open in the summer of 2017.

Here’s a look at the additions:

▪ CATS wants to expand the North Yard storage facility for light-rail vehicles. A 5,000 square-foot operations building would be expanded to 20,000 square feet, with enough room to perform maintenance on two light-rail vehicles, according to the city.

▪  CATS plans to build a pedestrian bridge over the N.C. Railroad Corridor to connect to the Sugar Creek station, an addition that CATS says will make the station safer and reduce the walking distance from North Davidson Street to the Howie Acres neighborhood.

▪  CATS also wants to extend a planned pedestrian bridge at the JW Clay/UNCC station. The longer bridge will go over the northbound lanes of North Tryon Street.

UNCC and Carolinas Medical Center – which has a hospital nearby – have agreed to share half of the cost of the bridge extension.

The City Council is scheduled to take a vote on awarding contracts for the projects Sept. 28.

CATS said the three new projects will cost $20 million. The N.C. Department of Transportation will pay up to $10 million of the new costs.

The state has already agreed to pay for just under $300 million of the line’s $1.1 billion cost.

The federal government is paying for about half of the project’s cost and CATS is paying for 25 percent.

Council members approved changes to the federal government’s construction contract – known as the Full funding Grant Agreement – last month.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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