© 2022 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

CATS Silver Line Revisions Could Extend Route To Union, Gaston

021521 Silver Line updated map .jpg
Charlotte Area Transit System
Map shows the revised route and station locations for the proposed Silver Line light rail.

Charlotte Area Transit System's proposed Silver Line light rail corridor could extend from Union County to Gaston County, under a new alignment being unveiled this week.

Original plans called for the line to run from Matthews to Charlotte Douglas airport and possibly downtown Belmont. But Silver Line project manager Andy Mock said CATS is now in talks with local officials to extend the line to Belmont Abbey College in Gaston County on the west and Union County at the east end of the line.

Those are among the changes in a revised route and station map that CATS will share during a series of six virtual public meetings beginning Tuesday. Each meeting will present and gather feedback on a different section of the map, known as the "locally preferred alternative."

The first on Tuesday looks at the Wilkinson Boulevard section from Belmont, in Gaston County, to I-485. Since CATS originally began planning the Silver Line, the idea of continuing the line across the river to downtown Belmont has gained steam. Now, Mock said it could go another mile, to Belmont Abbey.

"Previously, the locally preferred alternative stopped short at Park Street (Belmont) and had a station right at Park Street. But we are now recommending to extend beyond Park Street near some property that's owned by Belmont Abbey," Mock said. "We've been working with the Abbey for quite some time, about a potential terminus station at this location, with potential development opportunities associated with it. It also provides better connections to the Abbey and other things in that area."

Meanwhile, Mock said they've also drawn up new plans that could take the line east of Matthews, to the Union County towns of Stallings and Indian Trail. He said both towns had asked transportation planners to consider the idea.

"I think there is a compelling argument from a traffic perspective," Mock said. "You know, Independence Boulevard in this area and Monroe Road (have) a lot of cars on the road directly adjacent to the (proposed) Silver Line. Basically, because of that request, through the Metropolitan Transit Commission, is why we've looked at this."

The recommendations are still preliminary, and many details about the Silver Line project still haven't been worked out, including the cost and timing. The line is one of several stretching out from uptown Charlotte in a proposed expansion of the regional transit and transportation network that could cost an estimated $8 billion to $12 billion.

The city would pay a portion of the cost, which could require a sales tax increase. City officials have said they want to put that idea to voters this fall. The rest of the funding would come from the state and federal governments, though CATS has not yet applied.

The meetings over the next two weeks will include a presentation on each of six segments and a Q&A with project staff. They'll be streamed live at 5:30 p.m. on CATS' YouTube page. Here's the schedule:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 16, Focus Area 1: Wilkinson Boulevard (city of Belmont to I-485)
  • Wednesday, Feb. 17, Focus Area 2: Wilkinson Boulevard (I-485 to West Morehead Street)
  • Thursday, Feb. 18, Focus Area 3: Center City (West Morehead Street to Charlottetowne Avenue)
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23, Focus Area 4: Independence Boulevard (Charlottetowne Avenue to Idlewild Rd)
  • Thursday, Feb. 25, Focus Area 5: Independence Blvd (Idlewild Rd to just south of I-485 at CPCC Levine)
  • Tuesday, March 2, Focus Area 6: Potential Union County Extension

More information is at RideTransit.org

You can see detailed maps and descriptions of the recommendations at https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/38c41613178a4650b9a9a509f00fb8ae

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Select Your Email Format

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.