• Blue line extension delayed, CATS officials say

    By: Brittney Johnson

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte's anticipated light-rail extension is now delayed for seven months. The Blue Line extension was supposed to start operating in August, but it’s been pushed back to March 2018.

    Barbershop owner Nakia McClendon knew he was taking a risk opening his barbershop on North Tryon Street while construction crews were still building the Blue Line.

    "You've got to take a chance," he said.

    But learning the opening is delayed is concerning for him and his customers.

    "I'm shocked because that actually affects my business," he added.

    "It does affect my time driving up here," customer Floyd Lawes said.

    "We ran into unforeseen circumstances, soil issues trying to coordinate over 500 different contractors," Charlotte Area Transit System CEO John Lewis said.

    They made changes along the way, trying to stay on track but realized they were behind at the end of 2016, he said.

    Crews are working nearly 24/7, but in order to open on time contractors must turn over the corridor to CATS by March 15 so CATS can conduct five months of safety tests, Lewis said.

    Lewis announced to City Council Monday night they won't meet that deadline.

    "Our goal is to get this project open as quickly as possible without cutting corners and without sacrificing safety," Lewis said.

    But the longer wait is not sitting well with drivers fed up with construction. And while inconvenienced, McClendon is focused on the big business he expects the blue line to bring one day.

    "It's just growing pains," he said.

    CATS said the delay will not impact future light rail projects or add additional costs. March of 2018 is the deadline required for the federal grant funding half of the project. Lewis expects they'll finish before then.

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