Politics & Government

CATS unsure if it will build temporary Amtrak station uptown

Here is the proposed location for the Gateway Station
Here is the proposed location for the Gateway Station City of Charlotte

The Charlotte Area Transit System is moving forward with plans to build Gateway Station uptown for Amtrak, local buses and possibly commuter rail, but it’s unclear if the transit system will build a temporary station as first planned.

Last fall, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx awarded Charlotte a $25 million federal grant to build the Gateway train station uptown. At the time, the city said it was planning to build a temporary station near Trade Street. That would allow Amtrak to quickly relocate uptown away from its current station on North Tryon Street, a 30-minute walk from the heart of uptown.

Foxx said he hoped there could be a groundbreaking in 18 months, which would be in early 2017.

“It’s still a possibility – we haven’t decided one way or another,” Tina Votaw of CATS said of the temporary station. “In an ideal world, we’d rather proceed with the permanent station.”

Votaw said construction on the permanent station – somewhere near West Trade Street and north of Graham Street – probably won’t begin for several years. The station could open in 2021.

The first phase of the project could cost as much as $70 million, and CATS is still searching for additional federal and state grants.

“We are still working on that,” Votaw said. “We are optimistic.”

The City Council on July 25 bought 2.9 acres around the station site from the N.C. Department of Transportation for $11.8 million.

The first phase of Gateway Station would house the city’s Amtrak station, the Greyhound bus station, a Gold Line streetcar stop and local bus service.

CATS hopes the station will eventually be the final stop for the Red Line, a commuter train to Lake Norman. And CATS is now envisioning that Gateway would also be home to other rail lines, possibly to Gaston County, Monroe and Rock Hill.

Those four lines would cost billions of dollars, which CATS does not have. But the station could be designed so it could be expanded.

CATS has recently held public forums on possible designs for the station. The transit system has three designs and locations for the station that are being considered.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs