|CEMT Pushes for Light Rail Connection
Citizens for Efficient Mass Transit is pushing for a light rail connection from the proposed Multi-Modal Transportation Center to the South Corridor light rail line which will end on the North End of Uptown near College and 9th Streets.
CEMT and other supporters of the concept envision the new light rail connection utilizing the median of 10th Street through 4th Ward, and right of way parallel to the tracks from the new Multi-Modal Center along Smith Street next to the Norfolk Southern rail line.
The connection would allow run through service between the East Trade Street Transit Center and the proposed new Multi- Modal Center on West Trade Street for any future light rail line to the west. Light rail from West Corridor (Airport) could parallel the Norfolk Southern rail line from the Multi-Modal Center to reach Wilkinson Blvd. and then use the median or curb lanes of the road to reach Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. A Major Investment Study is now underway to determine what transit option is best for the West Corridor. It's expected to be finished in about a year.
Charlotte's Vintage Trolley would also be able to utilize the new connection between it's planned operation to 9th Street in 2002 and the Multi-Modal Center. Vintage trolley and light rail are very compatible as is evidenced by operation of both modes on Portland's light rail corridor.
CEMT feels the proposed connection would add to the synergy now going on in the North End. Development ideas are already being formulated for about 15 acres of land along North Tryon Street by the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte Center City Partners. Center City Partners President Rob Walsh says local and national developers are extremely interested. What better complement to the new mixed use development than a light rail line. What the vintage trolley has done for South End, light rail will do the same for the North End.
Land owned by Mecklenburg County--where the Hal Marshall Center sits--and land owned to the east by Levine Properties, will be crucial to any redevelopment efforts between Tryon Street and Brevard Street in First Ward. CEMT feels a light rail connection running from 9th Street and College Street through the County land to Tryon Street and Tenth Street should be considered by Hunter Interests, Inc. The Annapolis, Maryland firm is expected to present recommendations on development possibilities near the end of the year.
Heading west from 10th Street at Tryon Street the new light rail connection would utilize mostly the median of 10th Street to reach right of way parallel to the Norfolk Southern Railway. This would run through a segment of the 4th Ward residential area west of Church Street.
There is no doubt there will be concern by area residents and neighborhood interests. But, light rail and vintage trolley have shown to be good neighbors in such applications in other cities. The modes are safe, quiet and non-polluting; and greatly enhance property values and spur new development opportunities.
The new light rail connection would provide enhanced inter-connectivity to the inter-city/regional rail and bus modes planned for the Multi-Modal Transportation Center on West Trade Street, and local transit at the present East Trade Street Center. The connection would be an integral building block enabling the burgeoning area transit system to expand and prosper.