Charlotte officials examine possible ways to fund streetcar

    Residents of the Queen City have long enjoyed the mobility offered by the local public transit system, as the many bus lines and metro rails affords direct access to the metropolitan area’s most sought-after neighborhoods. In addition to the city’s extreme walkability and bikeshare programs, those who buy a house in Charlotte can enjoy being able to get around quickly and efficiently using these services.

    However, in an effort to continually improve the area, some elected officials are now working to enhance these offerings even more with the reintroduction of a streetcar line, according to WSOC. With work already underway on the project’s first phase, area politicians are hoping to acquire some federal funding to complete the entirety of the proposed 10-mile extension.

    Charlotte councilman Michael Barnes told the local television news station that various grants and other options are being reviewed, but preexisting plans to extend the Blue Line is competing for the same money.

    “Finding some way to fund it through a regional approach, or some diversity of funding sources,” Barnes said. “We’ve now got two projects competing against each other. And so they are colliding now, and that’s going to be a problem.”

    The council recently announced it will pursue a Federal Transit Administration grant, titled “Small Starts,” but if accepted, the money might not be awarded until 2016, WSOC reported. As part of the application, Queen City officials have pledged $63 million in matching funds, however, at least $12 million of those funds will be put toward the cost of applying.

    Work currently underway on project’s first phase
    Construction of a one-and-a-half-mile line, connecting the Time Warner Cable Arena to the Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, is currently underway, according to the Charlotte Observer. The new streetcar route, dubbed the “CityLinx Gold Line,” would extend to Hawthorne Lane in Elizabeth to the east, and Johnson C. Smith University to the west.

    Once finished, the route is expected to provide a considerable surge in business for nearby companies, as the areas that would be connected by the streetcar don’t currently see much traffic.

    Resurrection of streetcar has been ongoing, complicated
    While this effort to bring a streetcar system back within the Queen City seems to be gaining momentum, it certainly isn’t the first time the subject has been broached in recent years.

    One year ago, a proposal to pay for the estimated $126 million of work by heightening property taxes was rejected by the majority of the city council, the local newspaper reported. And recently, in September, Charlotte missed out on a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which is specifically designed to fund transportation projects that are considered to be multimodal.

    As work continues, Charlotteans can look forward to utilizing the line in the near future. Those individuals hoping to relocate to the metro area in order to take advantage of the new offering can benefit by having an experienced agent from Lodestone Real Estate help them navigate the path to homeownership. The locally-based firm has grown into a regional authority due to its specialized marketing tactics and ability to provide a high level of customer service.

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