• Proposed light rail extension line includes stops in Ballantyne and Pineville

    By: Joe Bruno

    Updated:

    PINEVILLE, N.C. - It's full steam ahead for light rail expansion.

    The Charlotte Area Transit System is proposing extending the light rail with stops at Ballantyne Corporate Park and the Carolina Place Mall.

    An exciting proposal for some shoppers.

    "It would be great if you don't have to drive or find a way to get all the way up there," Kiki Robinson, a Carolina Place Mall shopper said.

    [PDF: CATS proposed route for the expanded light rail line]

    The route has been identified, now it is time to figure out the funding.

    Councilman Ed Driggs said there is a lot of enthusiasm for mass transit in south Charlotte.

    With a price tag expected to be in the billions, he said following Denver's model in landing private sector help is a good approach the city can take.

    "I think we need to take a more comprehensive approach in the way we fund it and try to include more private investors in the start and that will help pay for the line," Driggs said. "The ability to get uptown on I-77 is just getting harder and harder."

    [ALSO READ: Updated plan to extend light rail to surrounding areas approved]

    Pineville wasn't always on board for the light rail. The town passed on its chance when the Blue Line was first constructed.

    Victoria Nwasike with South Charlotte Partners helped spearhead the efforts to make sure they were included this time.

    "We need to find ways to make sure our growth is not a burden but a benefit," Nwasike said. "The way we do that is we have to find sensible options for transportation. We have a lot of traffic and a lot of congestion. We need to have all options on the table."

    The blue line currently stretches from Interstate 485 to University City.

    CATS has an ambitious goal of expanding the light rail to the airport, Matthews and Ballantyne at the same time.

    A timeline has not been disclosed.

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