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CATS Receives Full Funding Grant Agreement from FTA for LYNX Blue Line Extension
IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 16, 2012

Charlotte, NC, -- The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Peter Rogoff, City of Charlotte Mayor Foxx, Metropolitan Transit Commission Chair Harold Cogdell, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) CEO Carolyn Flowers and state and local leaders will celebrate the receipt of a Federal Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFFGA) for the LYNX Blue Line Extension Light Rail Project on Tuesday, October 16 at 10 a.m. The FFFGA will provide 50 percent of the project costs for the LYNX Blue Line Extension (BLE) and is the last major funding source needed to advance the project towards construction.   

“This is another step forward in developing a first-rate transportation system for the region that increases our competitiveness, attracts jobs and enhances mobility for all of our citizens,” said Mayor Foxx. “The project itself will generate over 7,000 jobs during the construction phase and infuse $250 million in payroll into the local economy. We are not done building our transit system but this announcement is nothing less than a grand slam home run.” The FFFGA signing ceremony will take place at the 9th Street Trolley Station located at 228 East 9th Street between N College and N Brevard Streets.

The CATS LYNX Blue Line Extension Light Rail Project is one of very few projects advancing in the New Starts process for federal funding for FY13.  The 9.3-mile extension will run from 7th Street in Uptown Charlotte to the UNC Charlotte Campus in the University area and includes 11 light rail stations and four parking facilities with approximately 3,100 parking spaces.

“We are pleased that President Obama, Secretary LaHood and Administrator Rogoff have provided the funding partnership to allow CATS to expand the state’s first light rail line connecting one end of the county to the other,” said CATS CEO Carolyn Flowers. “Once completed in 2017, the LYNX Blue Line will provide the region with a congestion-free, consistent travel time from south Charlotte to northeast Charlotte.”

The $1.16 billion LYNX BLE project is the largest capital project in the city of Charlotte’s history. The project is funded 50 percent by the FTA, 25 percent by the NCDOT and with remaining funds from the local half cent sales tax dedicated to public transit, including 2.7 percent from the City of Charlotte through in-kind right-of-way (ROW) and donated ROW from UNC Charlotte. Construction is scheduled to begin fall 2013 with operational service expected in 2017.

The LYNX Blue Line extension will connect UNC Charlotte’s campus with over 25,000 students to the university’s center city campus at the future 9th Street Station and to uptown Charlotte. “The Blue Line extension offers UNC Charlotte greater connectivity to the city center and greater accessibility for the residents of the region to the resources of the University,” said Philip L. Dubois, Chancellor of UNC Charlotte.  “We believe so fully in the promise of the Blue Line extension that UNC Charlotte supported the granting of the university right-of-way for the campus portion of the line. That right-of-way was valued at $4 million. So, UNC Charlotte – like CATS,  the federal government, the residents of Mecklenburg County and the State of North Carolina – is deeply and directly invested in this project.”

The expanded line will also provide the first rapid transit connection to a major hospital, Carolinas Medical Center’s University Hospital, the largest hospital in the University area, North Mecklenburg and southwest Cabarrus counties which has served the area for more than 25 years. 

Once completed the LYNX Blue Line will provide almost 20 miles of cross-county travel in a total of 47 minutes. Just like the initial segment of the Blue Line, the expansion is projected to generate additional private investment adjacent to rail stations.  Construction is planned to start in 2013 with an opening date in 2017. To learn more about CATS and transit planning, please call 704-336-7433 or visit us on the web at www.ridetransit.org.