Bulldozers have been clawing at the sides of North Tryon for months now to make way for the Blue Line light rail extension.
Construction on the blue line light rail extension is going to intensify in early 2014. CATS officials gave an update during a public workshop Tuesday night in the University area.
What you see now along North Tryon is relocation of utilities. In other words, water, power and sewer lines are being moved away from the edge of the road. John Mrzygod with the city of Charlotte's engineering department says in a few months it's going to get intense.
"You're going to see a lot of orange barrels as the roadway is pushed to the outside to allow for the tracks to go into center," Mrzygod says.
The blue line extension will have 11 station stops from 7th Street in uptown all the way to UNC Charlotte. And in most places along North Tryon, roads will be widened so that there's room for tracks to be laid, either in the center of the road or with a bridge above ground. There will still be two lanes for motor vehicles on both sides of the train tracks, but CATS is also adding bike lanes, sidewalks and landscaping.
CATS also plans to build skybridges to connect the platforms to parking decks. And getting from one end of the blue line – the I-485/South Boulevard stop – to the other at UNC Charlotte will take a total 47 minutes. CATS expects more than 25,000 daily riders by 2035.
All the construction that's about to begin also means drivers will probably be stuck in traffic.
"We're at 50,000 vehicles a day roughly going down North Tryon, so keeping traffic flowing is going to be challenging," Mrzygod says.
But he says the city's priority during construction will be to make sure there is always access to the several hundred businesses along North Tryon during construction. For the LYNX Blue Line Extension project, CATS says there have been 110 condemnations filed and 19 businesses relocated.
The blue line extension is expected to be complete by 2017.