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Charlotte Observer: Feds Back $70 Million For Charlotte Light Rail Line Extension

The federal government is poised to give the Charlotte Area Transit System $70 million for its light-rail extension, and a top transit official said today he expects to give Charlotte full approval later this year to build the entire 9.4-mile line. "We don't expect anything to derail it," said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff Tuesday. "We are very supportive of this project. We don't see any show-stoppers." Rogoff said he expects the final paperwork - known as a Full Funding Grant Agreement - to be signed this fall. That would commit the federal government to roughly $450 million in construction money, about half of the line's $900 million cost. The extension would link uptown with UNC Charlotte, which has long been a dream of campus and city officials. CATS and the N.C. Department of Transportation are expected to each pay 25 percent of construction costs. The original plan for the Blue Line Extension was to end the line at a large park-and-ride lot at Interstate 485 in northeast Charlotte. But a lack of money forced CATS to scale back the project by 1.2 miles. The new ending will be on the UNC Charlotte campus. Along the way, the line will have new 11 stations, including stops in NoDa, Sugar Creek and along North Tryon Street. Rogow made the announcement during a conference call with reporters that detailed highlights of a proposed fiscal year 2013 budget. CATS has said the extension could open in 2019. Copyright 2012 The Charlotte Observer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.