Dr. Traffic

Get an update on expansion plan for Charlotte’s Gold Line streetcar system

Charlotte opened its first streetcar line in 77 years on July 14, 2015.
Charlotte opened its first streetcar line in 77 years on July 14, 2015. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

A public meeting Thursday is scheduled to present updates on a proposed $150 million, 2.5-mile extension of Charlotte’s much-debated CityLynx Gold Line streetcar service.

Phase 2 would add 11 stops and extend streetcar service by 2 miles going west, from Charlotte Transportation Center in uptown to French Street, north of Johnson C. Smith University.

Service to the east would be extended by 0.5 mile along Hawthorne Lane, from Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center to Sunnyside Avenue, near Central and Louise avenues.

Charlotte Area Transit System will host the meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church, 501 Hawthorne Lane.

The Gold Line is envisioned as a 10-mile system in a larger transportation network that ultimately might include rapid transit.

As proposed, the Gold Line’s retro streetcars would one day travel from the Rosa Parks Place Community Transit Center on Beatties Ford Road in west Charlotte, through uptown and the Elizabeth neighborhood, and along Central Avenue to the Eastland transit center.

Supporters say the streetcar would encourage economic growth and land development. Opponents suggest that the costs might outweigh the benefits.

Gold Line service began in July along a 1.5-mile route that includes six stops between the Charlotte Transportation Center uptown and Presbyterian Hospital in the Elizabeth neighborhood, with a connection at the Transportation Center to the Lynx Blue Line light rail service. The cost of Phase 1 was about $37 million.

The proposal for Phase 2 calls for expanded service in late 2019.

CATS has submitted an application for a $75 million matching grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts Project Development program. The city proposes to cover its half using “unallocated and contingent capital accounts” rather than with property taxes.

Charlotte’s streetcar continues to have more riders than CATS anticipated. The Gold Line handled 1,682 passenger trips on weekdays in August. In September, it averaged 1,938 trips.

Before it opened in July, CATS estimated the streetcar would carry about 1,000 passengers on weekdays.

Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms