by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte's controversial streetcar project is taking shape.
In the next few hours, City Council will vote to hire builders to get the first stretch going, $26 million for Blythe and Balfour Beatty. The first stretch is the 1.5 miles between the Transit Center and Presbyterian Hospital in Elizabeth. In fact, part of those rails are already in place.
Some still see it as a waste of money. When Eyewitness News said the word "streetcar," Denise Jackson rolled her eyes and said, "It is going to make traffic here unbearable, especially when we have events."
Even though the streetcar has had its share of opposition, City Council's John Autry has stood by the project.
"It's a big benefit to revitalizing the area, to encouraging more development in the area, to provide transportation for people," he said. "Plus, it's about connecting this city."
Robert Dawkins expects it to boost business along the line.
"It's a permanent investment by the city that businesses can rely on,” he said.
Businesses like City Deli & Bagel Co. agree. Manager Doris Cross said, "They keep saying that they're going to open it up and I think it would be great for business for us, for all of us."
The streetcar should open to riders in March 2015.
More information about the project:
City Council to vote on hiring builders for first stretch of streetcar project
Heavy rain, strong winds cause flooding, road closures across Charlotte
CMPD investigating 3 armed robberies at fast food restaurants
Device planted in Union Co. gas pumps may have stolen credit card info
Severe weather kills 18 in Georgia and Mississippi; death toll could rise