• City Council scrambles for budget answers, but turns other cheek at streetcar program

    By: Jason Stoogenke

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte city leaders are stuck on the budget, looking for construction projects to cut, but they are not scrapping what many consider to be the obvious choice: the streetcar program.

    The city already plans to build the one-mile stretch between the Children’s Theater of Charlotte and Presbyterian Hospital next year. That's a done deal. 

    The issue now is whether to build the two legs after that.

    The additional segments of the streetcar path are the most expensive item on the proposed budget at $119 million.

    It's been such a sore spot for many voters. However, the City Council as a whole will not take it off the list.

    Michael Barnes tried four different ways but could not get the votes.

    Patrick Cannon called it a Tinkertoy and got more push back than support. 

    And Claire Fallon said drop it, but the streetcar stays on the list. When asked if she's surprised it keeps surviving, Fallon said she was.

    "But people dig their feet in," she added.

    Some council members seem to genuinely like the streetcar program, like Patsy Kinsey, James Mitchell Jr. and John Autry.

    The streetcar would eventually go through their districts, and many of their voters have been waiting eagerly for it. But that's only a few council votes.

    So why does streetcar keep surviving? No one will say on the record, but two insiders said council members do not want to embarrass Mayor Anthony Foxx. He's been such a cheerleader for streetcar, they feel the project's success or failure reflects on him.

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