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.