• Ribbon-cutting for Blue Line Extension days after crossing gate problems

    By: Mark Becker


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - CATS officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning for the LYNX Blue Line Extension ahead of next month's grand opening, and also hosted an inaugural ride along the route.

    [READ MORE: Malfunction causes gates to close again along Blue Line Extension]

    It took about 15 minutes to go from UNC-Charlotte to uptown and that's without any stops along the way.

    “A very emotional day for me,” UNCC Chancellor Phillip Dubois said. “I've worked on this thing for 13 years.”

    Crews were out late Sunday afternoon testing the light rail cars along the route, and the ceremony came after Channel 9 investigated problems with the crossing gates last week.

    Eyewitness News reported last week that something went wrong during testing of the billion-dollar Blue Line Extension, triggering a "fail-safe activation" which caused all of the stop arms along the 9.3-mile route to close at the same time.

    The system was offline for 21 hours.

    Last month, Channel 9 uncovered a design flaw with 30 visually impaired markers that resulted in new concrete getting torn up, and last year a Whistleblower 9 investigation found cracking in rail ties, something CATS said has since been repaired and is not a safety issue.

    At 10 a.m., leaders, including Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and former governor Pat McCrory, took part in the special ceremony at UNC Charlotte Center City.

    The Chancellor of UNCC kicked off the festivities, telling the crowd that light rail will be even more transformational than football.

    [CATS CEO speaks to Channel 9 about Blue Line Extension delays]

    [City Council approves additional $15.3M for Blue Line Extension]

    [Emails shed light on Blue Line extension project delay]

    Many city leaders told Channel 9 that the Blue Line Extension will change the city around it and will lead to more development and opportunity in the community. 

    CATS CEO John Lewis said, "Today feels real good."

    Channel 9 asked Lewis about the last week's crossing arms issues. He said that those issues have been worked out and will be ready to roll when it opens to the public March 16.


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