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Charlotte Area

Charlotte Rejects Initial Bids For Streetcar Expansion

The Gold Line phase 2 project adds stops west of uptown and east of the current terminus at Hawthorne Avenue and Fifth Street.

Charlotte city staff have rejected the only two bids to expand the Gold Line, commonly called the streetcar. The plan now is to negotiate.

Charlotte brought back the streetcar a year ago, and it currently runs 1.5 miles from the Elizabeth neighborhood to uptown.

The city asked for bids on phase 2, which will add 2.5 miles, including to Johnson C. Smith University. The city tied other improvements to the bids as well, including upgrades to traffic signals and storm water.

Project manager David McDonald says both bids came in at least 30 percent over budget on construction costs.

"The best course of action was for us to reject the bids so that we can negotiate," he says. Federal law requires rejecting the bids before negotiating. McDonald says that's not uncommon for this kind of project.

The two companies, Conti and Balfour Beatty, are not far off on the streetcar portion of their bids.

"Then when we look at the overall project, some of those items that were bid high, we'll get into more detail and more understanding of why they were through the negotiation process, and we think we'll be able to make a lot of progress," he says.

McDonald says the plan is to stick with the original budget, and that could mean dropping some items from the bid to bring down the price. 

He says this should not impact the timeline much. Construction is supposed to finish by early 2020.