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CATS proposes new South End light rail station

CHARLOTTE — Officials with the Charlotte Area Transit System proposed a new South End light rail station near Publix and Sycamore/Atherton Lofts.

The station at Publix would be for the inbound train. The station at Sycamore/Atherton Lofts would be for passengers going outbound.

A pedestrian track crossing would connect the two stops.

Two public hearings were held to discuss the light rail stations in South End.

South End is a popular area that has seen a lot of growth over the last few years, which is one of the reasons for the new station. CATS said the other reason for the new stop is because people are hopping over this fence and crossing the tracks, trying to get to Publix, instead of walking around.

“Every day, people hop it over here and over here,” South End resident Kevin Olmsted said.

The goal is to start construction in late 2024 or early 2025. The date for the stops to be in operation will be in late 2026.

During the city’s transportation committee meeting, CATS CEO John Lewis acknowledges the long time frame is not ideal, but neither are the alternatives.

“We obviously can’t shut down the corridor. I would not want to shut down the area and have a bus bridge around it. That just complicates the traveling and the operations of the rail line,” Lewis said.

In 2018, Charlotte City Council made a new light rail station in that area a priority as part of the South End Vision Plan. Last year, council members approved nearly $2 million to begin engineering and designing the plan. According to the proposal, the city would pay for construction using a combination of public and private funds.

Some neighbors Channel 9 talked with are excited about the possibility, especially during sporting events.

“The only problem is that I have to walk like a mile, mile and a half to the East/West station from where I live, so if there was a stop right at my doorstep, that’d be awesome,” said South End resident Michael Gacevich.

“I take it pretty frequently to get to uptown, you know, anytime I go to a Hornets or a Panthers game, Charlotte FC game,” said Robert Troy, another South End resident. “I think it’d be pretty well utilized.”

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CATS said a cost has not been determined for the project but that Charlotte City Council will have to sign off on it. The light rail stop will also add about 90 seconds to people’s trips if they pass through it.

(Watch below: CATS to reduce bus service frequencies due to driver shortage)

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