• CATS trains test stop arms, signaling lights along Blue Line extension

    By: DaShawn Brown

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Trains were running at high speeds on the LYNX Blue Line extension Sunday during an all-day test, Charlotte Area Transit System officials said.

    Officials said the CATS trains started testing the stop arms along the Blue Line extension in the University City area.

    Officials said the trains were running at max operational speeds of 55 mph.

    The testing, which brings the light rail line another step closer opening, follows months of delays, including time lost addressing cracked concrete ties on the track.

    The focus Sunday was to make sure signaling lights and stop arms are working correctly, and so that drivers know what to expect.

    Officials said people should be alert at rail crossings, and obey all traffic signs and signals.

     

     

    Area drivers noticed the difference almost immediately.

    When the stop arm went down, one driver wasn't sure where to stop.

    The Blue Line extension is set to open in March.

    The LYNX Blue Line extension is 9.3 miles long and goes from the 7th Street Station in Uptown to UNC Charlotte’s campus in University City. The extension adds 11 stations to the 15 that have been on the line since 2007.

    “I am looking forward to riding it though,” UNC Charlotte Hannah Gorenflo said. “It's definitely going to be an interesting addition to the university area.”

    Channel 9 reported in July that concrete cracking problems impacted 13 percent of the rail ties installed on the new line. Last month, CATS said that all damaged ties had been replaced.

    [READ MORE: CATS admits to defective concrete problem after Whistleblower 9 investigation]

    Resident Curt Peters told Channel 9 that he's looking forward to having another transportation option.

    "Let me tell you, it's kind of a problem getting into downtown if you don't want to pay for parking and all that other hassle," Peters said. "This will alleviate all that."

    Construction on the extension began in late 2013 and was supposed to be completed by August 2017, but the project was delayed.

    [READ MORE: Emails shed light on Blue Line extension project delay]

    The line is now scheduled to be fully operational by March, according to CATS officials. 

    City officials said that despite the delays, the project is still under its $1.16 billion budget.

    CATS officials have not yet set a date on the next round of tests, but they said drivers should expect testing more often.

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