CATS says streetcar expansion significantly delayed because of RNC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The extension of the streetcar into Plaza Midwood and west Charlotte will not open by August 2020 as originally projected.

CATS CEO John Lewis told Charlotte City Council Monday night that the opening will have to be delayed by six months due to the Republican National Convention.

“This is the first time this has happened, a construction project for transit in a city that is having a convention,” Lewis said.

As a result, CATS cannot start testing until fall 2020. CATS is now seeking an extension from the federal government so the project can open by February 2021.

“I can't imagine our federal partners not working with us in that regard,” Lewis said.

Service will shut down this summer so the platforms can be elevated for the new modern streetcars. After it shuts down, Lewis says the service will not restart until the entire line opens in 2021. A bus bridge will be put in place for people who rely on the line.

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Charlotte City Councilmember Dimple Ajmera expressed disappointment in the delay because of the negative impact many businesses have felt during construction.

“This is going to really impact businesses in those neighborhoods,” Ajmera said.

City Manager Marcus Jones said while the timing of the RNC doesn’t help, the streetcar project was likely heading for a delay regardless.

“Even before the RNC we had some challenges with the Gold Line,” Jones said.