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North Corridor Rail Demonstration Project Proposed

Construction Begins on the South Corridor!
People driving down Camden Road in the South End area have undoubtedly noticed the construction work taking place on the rail line next to the street. The high embankment that the railroad had built through the South End neighborhood is being cut down to match street level in order to blend the rail line in better with its surroundings.

All of this construction is part of a $31 million project that will rebuild the old Norfolk Southern freight trackage from Tremont Avenue in South End to 9th Street in Uptown. $19.7 million of this total was invested by the City of Charlotte. $8.2 million will come from the half-cent sales tax earmarked for transit, with the remaining $3 million coming from private contributions.

When completed in the fall of 2002 the rail line will be totally rebuilt from the ground up to standards which will allow future light rail trains to operate on it. This will not happen until late in 2005 at the earliest, however in the meantime the Charlotte Trolley will use this track. At the present time the line will be single track with 3 passing sidings, which will eventually be connected to form an all double tracked right-of-way once light rail is introduced in late 2005.

The $31 million will pay for much more than just new tracks. Overhead trolley wire will be strung along the entire route, held up by decorative support poles. The bridge over I-277 will be widened to accommodate two tracks. The missing bridge over Stonewall Street, taken out during construction of the convention center, must be rebuilt. A special track, mounted on springs, will carry the Trolley, as well as light rail trains, directly through the middle of the Charlotte Convention Center. Nothing quite like this has ever been attempted before. The springs are designed to absorb the vibration from the trains as they pass through the hall. If all goes according to plans, this will be a first for Charlotte. While other cities have rail lines passing through or under buildings inside tunnels, no one has tried to run a rail line directly across the floor of a major facility such as this before.

In addition to all of the above, the funding will pay for trolley stops and later light rail stations. These stations will be designed to be attractive and compliment the neighborhoods in which they will be located. Present plans are to build 6 light rail stations between Tremont Avenue and 9th Street. They will be located at: Tremont, Rensselear, Carson, 2nd Street, across from the convention center, Trade Street at the present city bus transit center and 9th Street in the north end of Uptown. There will likely be additional stations but these will be served exclusively by the Charlotte Trolley. In the future, people using light rail wanting access to these stations can transfer to the Trolley to complete their ride. The funding will include still more. A walking and bike pathway will parallel most of the rail line between uptown and South End, and much of the right-of-way will including landscaping. The project should greatly enhance the rail corridor which has been overgrown with weeds and trash.

Already over $200 million in new development has occurred in this area although the Trolley is only operating 3 days a week and light rail is still 4 years away. Some naysayers such as former city councilman Don Reid and Mike Jackson say much of this development would have occurred with or without the Charlotte Trolley. To answer them we can only say “Where else in Charlotte can you find this scale of development, happening in such a short time, in this concentrated an area?”

February, 2001