Politics & Government

CATS plans an elaborate light show for the light-rail extension. Here is an early look.

With the Lynx Blue Line extension’s opening set for March, the Charlotte Area Transit System this week unveiled new lighting features on two parking decks on the line.

The J.W. Clay Parking Deck and the University City Boulevard parking decks will be adorned with a light show that will run from dusk until 2 a.m. daily. CATS will be able to program the light shows for different themes, including green and gold for UNC Charlotte athletics; blue for the Carolina Panthers; teal and purple for the Hornets; and lights moving around the exterior of the garage for NASCAR.

There also will be holiday lights. And when trains arrive at the nearby stations, the lights will turn blue.

The light shows will start Oct. 26.

CATS had hoped to open the $1.1 billion, 9.3-mile extension in August. But construction delays have pushed that opening back to March.

The transit system is waiting for the main contractor, Balfour Beatty Rail, to turn the project over. After that, the transit system has its own tests to perform, which will last about five months.

CATS chief executive John Lewis said Thursday he expects the project to open in March.

“Everything is going well,” he said. “I would be nervous if something had broken down, but we have had no hiccups. We know we will be finished in March. I can’t say whether it’s March 1st or March 21st, but we will be done.”

The extension will have more art than the original rail line, which opened in 2007.

After the Blue Line extension opens, CATS will study how to build and fund more rail lines, including a train to Lake Norman, and a light-rail line from the airport to Matthews.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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