by: Tina Terry Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - There’s a major roadblock for a commuter rail project that Charlotte area leaders have spent nearly a decade planning. Leaders had hoped the Red Line would use Norfolk Southern track from Uptown Charlotte to the downtown areas of Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville.
However, a new report shows the brakes have been put on the project.
That report released by Charlotte Transportation Officials Wednesday night said Norfolk Southern doesn’t want to share its railroad tracks with commuter rail. It wants to preserve the tracks for freight use only.
"It is a change and frankly a very disappointing change,” said Davidson Mayor John Woods.
He said the Red Line would alleviate traffic congestion and spur some of the same development created by the light rail in Charlotte.
"It’s difficult to understand how a private company can create a win loss situation for itself and the community in which it operates."
Mayor Woods sits on the Metropolitan Transit Commission. The group is now trying to find ways to push the project forward. One idea would involve creating another track adjacent to Norfolk Southern’s. However the report said that plan would involve major road changes, and would involve bulldozing dozens of homes, churches and parks in the way.
"I would hate to see that done. I would really hate to see neighborhoods destroyed,” said Elaine Mcarm. She owns a business in downtown Davidson and had hoped for the Red Line project would spur growth, development and more foot traffic downtown.
Woods agreed and said the plan may not be feasible. However, he vowed not to give up on the project.
"We’re not going away this is an issue too important to the life of our Charlotte region," Woods said.
We reached out to Norfolk Southern for a comment, but haven’t heard back. Mayor Woods said transportation leaders are reaching out to state and federal leaders to see if they can help make this project happen.