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CATS Says Streetcar Will Open By End Of Year

David Boraks
The second phase of the streetcar will reopen by the end of this year.

The second phase of Charlotte’s streetcar will open by the end of this year, Charlotte Area Transit System chief executive John Lewis said Tuesday.

The 2.5-mile streetcar extension was supposed to open this fall, but the project fell behind. One problem was that steel girders for a new bridge over Independence Boulevard were the wrong size.

When the second phase of the streetcar opens, it will use modern streetcars that will replace the old green-and-yellow historical vehicles. And the new streetcars will operate for a period on batteries, which means the city won’t have to build overhead power lines at Trade and Tryon streets.

"So we’re moving away from the old-style, or as my daughters call it, 'Rice-A-Roni-style' streetcars to a more modern streetcar," Lewis told Mecklenburg Commissioners on Tuesday.

The second phase of the streetcar will reach Johnson C. Smith University to the west and Sunnyside Avenue in Elizabeth to the east. The second phase of the streetcar costs $150 million. The federal government is paying for half.

Lewis had said last year that the streetcar was delayed because of the Republican National Convention in August. He said the Department of Homeland Security told CATS that it couldn't work on the project before the convention because it the construction zone would be too close to the Spectrum Center.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.