It was only around 70 years ago that Charlotte had a booming trolley system, with dozens of orange-colored streetcars running up and down the middle of Queens Road, The Plaza, and other surrounding streets and neighborhoods. That is, until the late 1930s came around, and the city dismantled the system, envisioning a future where cars and buses would become the city's primary modes of transportation.
Now, the city is decidedly moving back in the opposite direction, imagining a future where Charlotteans do use rail lines, in addition to cars and buses, after all. The rail revival has been picking up steam over the last few decades, beginning with the reintroduction of the trolley in 1996, followed by the historic opening of the LYNX Blue Line in 2007 and the opening of the Gold Line streetcar in 2015, and now, in present day, with the launching of the Blue Line extension connecting uptown to UNC Charlotte.
The new 9.3 mile light rail line officially opens to the public on Friday, March 16, (seven months behind its originally-planned launch date: August 2017) and at a cost of nearly $1.2 billion, making it one of the most expensive public works project in Charlotte's history.
Over the last few weeks, WFAE has been calling for listeners to send in their questions about the new Blue Line extension. According to our submissions, people are curious about the project's design, its practicality, and what kinds of future rail projects the city might have in store.
On today's episode of FAQ City, we relay those listener-submitted questions to CATS CEO John Lewis, who was kind enough to join us at a newly built train stop on 9th Street just outside uptown, and provide us with answers!
Do you have more questions about the new light rail line (or anything else about Charlotte's history, culture, and transportation)? Let us know in the box below! We'll have much more coverage of the new Blue Line extension's debut throughout this week on WFAE.