• Charlotte misses out on federal grant for streetcar extension

    By: Jim Bradley

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte will not get a federal grant to pay for a streetcar extension.

    The city was hoping for $24 million in matching money to help extend the current project from the arena uptown on to the Gateway area near Johnson and Wales University.

    It's not what streetcar supporters hoped, but it is what they expected. Eyewitness News reported Wednesday that Charlotte was unlikely to get the grant.

    City leaders are putting the best face on it they can.

    “This is an opportunity for us to explore other options,” said CATS CEO Carolyn Flowers.

    Flowers stood amid the construction and promised she won’t stop applying for other federal grants for the streetcar.

    The city will look at two other federal grants. One, called Small Starts, could fund a portion of the streetcar line and New Starts, which theoretically could fund the entire run from west Charlotte to Eastland Mall.

    The money could take years to reel in meaning construction is likely to stop once the streetcar’s mile and a half run near Uptown opens in 2015.

    “This will be in service before we actually have the next grant,” Flowers said.

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the grant winners Thursday.

    Foxx, who was a champion of the project while mayor of Charlotte, announced a list of projects that will get federal funding. He said even though the streetcar project was not on the list, he still believes in streetcars as a way to spur economic growth in cities.

    “Streetcars are one that can be very helpful to communities in improving and enhancing mobility choices and improving economic development and quality of life,” Foxx said.

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