Emails shed light on Blue Line extension project delay

by: Paul Boyd Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9 has new documents that suggests construction of the Blue Line extension project is only six weeks behind schedule, and there may be other reasons why it’s not going to be operational in August.

Whistleblower 9 investigator Paul Boyd dug through more than 120 emails belonging to Charlotte Area Transit System CEO John Lewis. The documents suggest that the public may not have been given the whole story about the delay.

LINK: SEE INTERNAL CATS DOCUMENTS

Lewis emphasized to the public last month that the $1.6 billion Blue Line extension was delayed primarily because of construction issues, but the internal documents suggest otherwise.

The delay may actually stem from concerns raised by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and a safety and security readiness review.

A consultant's preliminary findings in January gave CATS a harsh assessment saying, "...much of your documentation is incomplete, out of date or absent altogether."

The report then lists eight critical issues that need to be resolved for an August opening including concern that a rail activation plan is "...incomplete, especially for this stage of the project..."

That coincides with concerns discussed with the NCDOT.

According to the agency’s agenda from January, there was a “Lack of (a) Systems Integration Test Plan” and the “Lack of (a) Rail Activation Plan.”

Lewis denied Wednesday that there were any efforts to mislead the public.

"The challenges we face in opening at the August goal were outlined very clearly at the council meeting and in subsequent conversations, and I stand by those facts," Lewis said.

None of the emails provided to Channel 9 offered any details about construction delays. The CEO told Boyd those issues were discussed in face-to-face meetings.

An official also said Wednesday that CATS has found more emails to help clarify the situation, and will provide those to us as soon as possible.

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