After Pledging To Finish CLT Trail, City Manager's New Plan Is Similar To Old One

Feb 5, 2019

The city of Charlotte offered suggestions Monday night for how to finish the Cross Charlotte Trail, but the proposals don't include new money to help close a $77 million shortfall to finish the project.

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City Manager Marcus Jones last month said he would look at existing pots of money to finish the trail, including a proposal by council member Braxton Winston to use hotel/motel tax money for the project. Winston said he believes it could be seen as a tourism project.

But Monday's plan was similar to the January plan, which left council members and the public frustrated. Jones has not allocated new money to the project, and there was no discussion Monday about using hotel/motel tax money for the project.

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"How is what you are presenting different?" asked Winston during Monday's meeting.

City engineer Mike Davis said the new plan would use part of the existing rail trail along the Lynx Blue Line Extension near the 25th Street station. In addition, the city hopes to lean on private developers to help them finish part of the trail, and he said the city would have more signs on a "Bicycle Boulevard" through Hidden Valley and NoDa.

In January, the city proposed something similar. In areas where it couldn't afford to build standalone trails, it would place signs on existing roads. The signs would label the roads as part of the 26-mile Cross Charlotte Trail.

"That's just signage on an existing roadway," said council member Larken Egleston. "It's all visual. It's not physical infrastructure."

He urged council members not to accept Monday's plan as final.

Jones, who has been in Charlotte for a little more than two years, has said previous city administrations are responsible for not having detailed cost estimates for the trail and other projects.

Council member Ed Driggs said the city shouldn't use that as an excuse.

"If we don't react dramatically, we own it," Driggs said. "Are we doing something different so new projects don't land us in the same place?"

For now, the plan is to spend almost all of the $38 million dedicated to the project on finishing segments in south Charlotte. Six council members supported that idea.

That would add three miles to connect existing county trails, and would create a continuous trail from I-485 in south Charlotte to the Belmont neighborhood.

But that plan would favor south Charlotte, while leaving northeast Charlotte with few miles of trails as originally envisioned. Council member Dimple Ajmera said the city needs to think about equity issues when moving forward with the trail.

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