University City

Public meetings seek community feedback on Blue Line Extension project

To get public feedback, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department will host two public meetings in December about the LYNX Blue Line Extension light rail project.

The roughly 9-mile extension is expected to start serving 11 light-rail stations between uptown and the UNC Charlotte campus in 2017, according to CATS officials.

The project includes four parking facilities. Once operation begins, all the stations will be served by CATS’ network of feeder buses as well.

A public meeting on Dec. 5 will update residents and business owners on the progress so far, the effects of construction on surrounding areas and what to expect in the immediate future, said CATS spokeswoman Judy Dellert-O’Keef.

“The construction manager with the project will talk about what we’ve seen happening along North Tryon and that corridor,” she said. “He’ll also talk about what’s coming up over the next six months, into the summer, as civil construction gets started.”

The public meeting and workshop on Dec. 10 will be for the three University City transit station area plans on University City Boulevard, McCullough Drive and J.W. Clay Boulevard, said Amanda Vari, a principal planner with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department.

“The proposals that will be brought to the meeting are intended to be a starting point to work with the community on the future vision,” Vari said.

The Dec. 10 workshop will include a brief project introduction, as well as a chance to view and comment on proposed updates to the future land use policies in the area, Vari said. The project is primarily an update to the University City Area Plan, adopted in 2007, she said.

Feedback from this public workshop could result in new recommendations for the future land use of properties within the station areas, which includes more about 300 feet or more from the transit center platforms, said Dellert-O’Keef.

The workshop will consider what kinds of uses the areas are zoned for and what type of development is desired, such as the condos and multi-use businesses seen in South End. It also will take up what type of connectivity can exist and is needed in terms of sidewalks, bike lanes and more, Dellert-O’Keef said.

Additional station area plan workshops are already scheduled into 2014, Vari said. The second workshop, scheduled for February, will focus on transportation, environmental policies and community design, she said.

The last workshop, scheduled for March, will cover the final draft plan and recommendations.

At both December meetings, project team members from CATS and from city and state departments will be available to answer questions, said Dellert-O’Keef. Departments represented will include the planning department, neighborhood and business services, park and recreation, bus operations, art in transit, real estate, N.C. Department of Transportation and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities.

Coordination between Charlotte and the state departments of transportation is essential to the project, Dellert-O’Keef said, to prevent duplication of services and other inefficiencies.

“With roadwork and sidewalk projects, we’ve got to make sure we’re not rebuilding an intersection and the next (agency) comes along and has to tear it up,” she said. “We want minimal impact to residents and commuters.”

Community input will be particularly important to CATS and bus operations, Dellert-O’Keef said, as North Tryon’s route 11 has the heaviest ridership of any of the system’s bus routes.

“When they’re doing construction and widening the roadway, we might have to temporarily close a route or reroute (it). There will be someone (at the meetings) who can talk about those impacts.”