Experts weigh in on Charlotte’s bigger transit vision

CHARLOTTE — An Urban Land Institute panel wrapped up a week-long stay in Charlotte today with recommendations on strengthening a $13.5 billion transit pitch and its signature east-west light-rail project.

The 26-mile light-rail project, known as the Silver Line, would run along Independence Boulevard through uptown and to the west, past Charlotte Douglas International Airport and, potentially into Gaston County. To the east, it would stretch into Matthews and, possibly, Union County. The estimated cost is $8.1 billion.

The panel of planning, transit, design and engineering experts spent the past week here meeting with city government and Charlotte Area Transit System representatives, speaking with stakeholders and residents, and researching local trends in population, housing, employment and social mobility.

The experts recommended taking a second look at how the Silver Line is routed through uptown, including suggestions to consider consolidating three planned stations or connecting with the existing north-south light-rail line in the center city and then branching off to the east and west.

Other challenges and potential remedies included in the panel’s discussion today examined how to stage a successful referendum to generate local funding for the transit plan, making the 4-mile streetcar line viable, and educating the public on the employment, housing and equity gains to be made by building the Silver Line.

Read more here.

(WATCH BELOW: Prominent Charlotte political group voices concerns about Charlotte transit plan)