LYNX Blue Line in the process of being extended by 2017

by: Erica Bryant Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The federal government is signing off on funding for the light rail extension in Charlotte.

A half-billion dollar announcement is expected for Tuesday.

Currently the LYNX runs from Interstate 485 into uptown Charlotte, but when the extension is completed it will stretch another 9 miles to UNC Charlotte.

"We're the only ones so far to be signed this year," said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.

Foxx said Charlotte is the only city in the country this year to be awarded $580 million in federal funds, half of the cost to extend the LYNX Blue Line.

"It is huge for the city. This will be the largest public works project that the city has ever done," said Foxx.

With federal funding, plus $299 million from the state, $250 million from C.A.T.S out  and the city providing the rest, the Blue Line will extend from Center City through NoDa to stops in University at CMC Hospital on to J.W. Clay, ending on the campus of UNC Charlotte.

CATS CEO Carolyn Flowers says with the south line this guarantees riders could travel from south Charlotte to University in 47 minutes.

"What you will have is a reliable commute forever because you have a dedicated right of way. Traffic conditions will change, but the commute on light rail will remain constant," said Flowers.

Officials expect this will also extend an economic boom.

The south corridor line sparked $1.4 billion in private sector impact that they now want to extend north.

"We're expecting the private sector to come and play a role in revitalizing North Tryon, NoDa and University City. This is a huge, huge announcement," said Foxx.

Construction on the Blue Line extension will begin late 2012 and the line is planned to open in 2017.