Government officials recently signed on for a 9.3-mile expansion of Charlotte’s Lynx light rail system. Scheduled to be completed by 2017, the Blue Line expansion will connect the distantly located campus of UNC Charlotte with the large urban center in the Queen City, which has a population of around 750,000.
The expansion has been in the works for awhile now, so the signing is somewhat of a formality, but an important one. The expansion of the line will at least double its ridership, according to FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff.
Charlotte is the home of one of North Carolina’s largest universities, but because of its location, it has remained somewhat unintegrated with the rest of the city. There have been some improvements in recent years, but none like this.
The expansion will make travel between the campus and downtown easy and fast for the massive student population. The line will run directly by the Student Union and a large number of the school’s dormitories, Streetsblog reports, “to South End, uptown and points in between, notably the NoDa neighborhood of bars, restaurants and renovated mill houses … And people in other parts of the city will be able to travel more easily to the main university campus without having to fight interstate highway traffic.”
The city is hoping (rightly) that the extension will go a long way to revitalize neighborhoods running along the new extension. “If the light rail’s South Corridor is any predictor, it will.” Such lines have revitalized neighborhoods and stimulated economic growth in many other cities, as well.