City News

Third Ward against maintenance yard

The proposed North Corridor commuter rail line from uptown to Lake Norman isn't yet assured, but the Third Ward Neighborhood Association already knows one thing.

The neighborhood doesn't want the rail's maintenance building in its part of town.

After its most recent stakeholders' meeting, the neighborhood association last week sent a letter to the Charlotte Area Transit System stating reasons why the building's not wanted. Besides noise concerns and worry that a large facility would further cut off the neighborhood from uptown Charlotte, neighborhood association president John Schwaller thinks CATS' planning of a maintenance facility is too premature for a line that's not completely sure to exist.

“Our responsibility as the neighborhood association is to ensure what development happens, happens in a cohesive fashion,” he said, adding that CATS should focus on the southernmost stop, Charlotte Gateway Station, planned for Graham and West Trade streets. “I think they've got to tackle the major parcel before the ancillary ones.”

The four- or five-story building would go on a two-acre parcel near the Carolina Panthers practice field and a Johnson & Wales University dorm building. The North Corridor rail cars would undergo basic, but mandatory, maintenance and cleanings in the building.

David Carol, the North Corridor's project manager, said most noise would come from the trains, which are currently carrying freight, and not from cleaning. He also said CATS is only working on a preliminary “30 percent” design to expedite the process should the Gateway Station get approval and funding.

Carol envisions the facility adding some business uses, with fashionable architecture and landscaping. He said most commuter rails across the country have a maintenance facility at one end or the other to more easily service the cars. The northern end is still undecided, with Davidson and Mount Mourne the most current options. The storage facility for the rail cars will also stand near Bank of America Stadium.

“We'll have to be there anyway,” Carol said, “so it's an extremely efficient use of the rail line.”

The rail's expected to cost around $261 million, with state funds and taxes covering about $190 million. Area towns like Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and Mooresville could have to make up the difference, which has caused differing opinions among those towns' leaders. The line hasn't qualified for federal funding.