Charlotte transit expansions estimated at $6B-$8B

North Carolina – Business and town leaders in the Charlotte suburbs of Pineville and Ballantyne are pushing for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) to extend its Blue Line light rail to the area’s corporate developments.
John Lewis, CEO of the transit system, estimated the total cost at $6 billion to $8 billion to extend the Blue Line to Pineville and Ballantyne, build a proposed 23-mile Silver Line light rail expansion to the southeast, and establish a 25-mile bus rapid transit route to link uptown Charlotte to north Mecklenburg County and the town of Mooresville. Lewis said a bond referendum to pay for the three corridors could go before voters as early as 2020.
When CATS opened the Blue Line in 2007, it was the state’s first light rail line. However, Pineville officials initially resisted ideas to extend the line past its I-485/South Blvd. station and terminate it in their city. Now that a corporate business park in Ballantyne is losing major tenants to uptown developments with access to light rail, and other communities with rail connections are booming in population and business, Pineville leaders are advocating the Blue Line’s expansion to their city.
CATS’ governing body, the Metropolitan Transit Commission, is expected to vote in 2019 on a recommendation for extending the Blue Line by 5 or 6 miles to Pineville and Ballantyne. Approval would automatically add it to CATS’ 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan.

$1B North Dakota pipeline project gets state funding

North Dakota – Water authorities will receive $30 million in state funding to start building the $1 billion Red River Valley Water Supply Project (RRVWSP) pipeline after Gov. Doug Burgum signed SB2020 appropriating the funds.
The project will construct a 72-inch diameter pipeline to transport water from the Missouri River to a Sheyenne River reservoir north of Valley City. The bill also establishes a cost-share requirement of 75 percent state funds and 25 percent local funds.
Thirty-five communities and rural water systems have signed up for the development phase of the project, according to the project’s state lead and co-sponsor, Garrison Diversion Conservancy District. The city of Fargo will be the system’s largest customer.
SB2020 also includes $13 million in carryover grant funds from the state’s 2017-2019 budget for the RRVSWP. Bidding on construction jobs is expected to start this fall with work beginning spring 2020.

Atlanta transit board approves sequencing of $1.3B expansion

Georgia – The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has teamed up with the city of Atlanta for a major investment in public transit. MARTA’s Board of Directors approved the sequencing of the More MARTA Atlanta program’s transit projects, which calls for nearly $1.3 billion in improvements and adding new modes to the system.
The transit projects focus on adding 29 miles to light rail service, 22 miles to arterial rapid transit (ART), and 14 miles to bus rapid transit (BRT).
Among the projects are a Capitol Avenue BRT line to link various centers to Atlanta BeltLine’s Southside Trail; ART improvements to Cleveland Ave, Metropolitan Parkway, and Peachtree Road; and platform lengthening at Bankhead Station.
By 2025, more than a dozen projects are set to be operational, under construction, or in the planning and design phase. It’s estimated that the overall expansion program will be underway for a total of 40 years.

$3.6B road plan in the works for Arkansas

Arkansas – The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ADOT) is preparing a $3.6 billion road project list, led by a $475 million effort to widen Interstate 40 between North Little Rock and West Memphis over 20 years.
The 31 projects outlined in the proposed plan would help relieve congestion on thoroughfares around the state, which has more than 8,000 roads with failing pavement ratings. A draft map of the projects also calls for spending $350 million in improvements to interstates 30 and 40 in Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Other projects include building two new sections of Interstate 49 from Highway 22 to Interstate 40 for an estimated $270 million and from an unincorporated area known as “Y” City to south of Greenwood for $270 million. Highway 67 improvements from Walnut Ridge to the Missouri state line would cost $180 million. A Highway 82 project would receive $160 million to widen the road from Texarkana to Lake Village. An estimated $150 million would fund construction of a two-lane Interstate 69 in southeast Arkansas, and $100 million would be spent to widen sections of highways 62, 63, and 412 from Huntsville to Black Rock.
The plan depends heavily on voters’ approval to continue a half-percent sales tax in perpetuity. The tax was originally approved in 2012 on a temporary basis. If the measure is successful, the sales tax revenues would fund a $1.8 billion road construction program and generate $205 million annually.
ADOT’s director expects to present a draft of the plan to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and finalize it by September 2019.