• City Council approves additional $15.3M for Blue Line Extension

    By: Paul Boyd


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9 obtained a new document through a public records request that helps explain why the Blue Line Extension project was delayed and is now costing taxpayers more money.

    The internal email, obtained exclusively by Whistleblower 9, was written by the deputy project director, Kelly Goforth, in March 2017 with the subtitle, "Lessons Learned," and includes a revealing bullet point:

    "(Blue Line Extension) Interface Control Documents - approx. 1,000 required, only five provided -- will have problems during testing because of this, why was this allowed and what to do about it now."


    The 1,000 required documents were for contractors working on the project. CATS did not clarify how many of the documents were ever provided.

    Channel 9 showed the email to taxpayers near the Blue Line on Monday.

    "That to me just seems unacceptable. I don't have any other words for it," Julie Froud said.

    "Sounds like there was a lot of mismanagement in that process," Tom Doo said.

    On Monday night, City Council approved an additional $15. million for the Blue Line Extension.

    As Channel 9 first reported on Thursday, CATS CEO John Lewis will be asking City Council to approve $15.3 million in amended contracts for the project Monday night.

    All of the project's key contractors are now needed to work until at least July of 2018, even though the Blue Line opens in March.

    Channel 9 asked CATS if the missing documents discussed in the internal email contributed to the ongoing project delays.

    Agency officials didn't directly answer that question but released a statement:

    "The comments made in the document dated March 23, 2017... are unrelated to the requests for Council action and contract amendments.

    "The LYNX Blue Line Extension Project remains under budget and on schedule to open in March 2018.  The contract amendments that will go before Charlotte City Council on November 27 address the time needed to complete work in Norfolk Southern's railroad right-of-way.  This will not require additional taxpayer funds and are covered out of the existing BLE project budget.

    "There are several major projects occurring in the right-of-way between 36th Street and Sugar Creek Road including BLE, NCDOT's Sugar Creek Bridge project and Norfolk Southern's additional track.  This requires extensive coordination along an active railway. While Norfolk Southern's required standards did not change, this portion of work has experienced unforeseen conditions which increased the already challenging construction coordination. These activities will not require additional taxpayer funds and are covered out of the existing BLE project budget; the BLE is on schedule to open in March 2018."

    The request for more money comes just eight months after City Council approved another $25 million in contract amendments for the billion-dollar project.

    Even though the funding request draws on an existing budget, there is no denying the actual tax dollars being spent on the project are increasing.

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