CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Blue Line Extension opens Friday morning, but Channel 9 got a chance to ride the 10 miles from uptown to UNC Charlotte before the grand opening.
Charlotte Area Transit System CEO John Lewis said the 10 miles of new track is a long time coming -- nearly five years -- but CATS is still putting on the final touches.
“We're doing landscaping, finishing touches on the parking garages and on some of the stations but the system is ready for ridership," Lewis said.
The ride is smooth and fast. It took about 30 minutes to get from uptown to UNCC with 11 stops.
The first stop riders will notice is that the landscape has changed dramatically.
“It looks different already, just with the infrastructure with the light rail," said Darlene Heater, executive director of University City Partners.
Channel 9 past coverage on LYNX Blue Line Extension:
- Whistleblower 9 exclusive: Serious design flaw on Lynx Blue Line extension
- Pedestrian rail crossings fixed along new Blue Line Extension
- Ribbon-cutting for Blue Line Extension days after crossing gate problems
- CATS trains test stop arms, signaling lights along Blue Line extension
- Lynx Blue Line extension trains to run more frequently
Heater said that business is already booming even before the extension opens.
“It is changing every day and it's exciting to see people utilize the infrastructure we've invested in and it's going to continue to grow," Heater said.
As for safety, riders can expect to see nearly 90 officers patrolling the rail cars and platforms. There are also emergency call boxes in place.
The extension officially opens at 10 a.m. Friday.
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