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CATS gets $180M loan for Blue Line extension

The Charlotte Area Transit System has received a $180 million federal loan for construction of the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension.

The loan comes from the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program which allots funds for transportation projects of regional significance. The credit provides improved access to capital markets, flexible repayment terms, and potentially more favorable interest rates than can be found in private capital markets.

Charlotte’s light-rail expansion will run from Ninth Street in center city through NoDa to the UNC Charlotte campus northeast of the city. The 9.3-mile extension is slated for operation in 2017. Construction began in July 2013.

The current light-rail system runs from south Charlotte near the Pineville city limits to the Seventh Street Station in uptown.

In addition to the $180 TIFIA loan, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration is providing $580 million for the nearly $1.2 billion project. The remaining cost is covered by state and local funding.

“This project is already catalyzing economic growth and opportunity by connecting the city’s financial, high tech and cultural centers with the thriving UNCC campus and giving commuters an alternative to sitting in traffic on I-85 and U.S. 29.  The project also connects and will help revitalize many historically underserved neighborhoods,” said former Charlotte mayor and current U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in a press release.  “The Blue Line extension is an important piece of the overall transit system that Charlotte needs in order to thrive in the 21st Century.”

‒Roberta Fuchs

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