Will a new name, a new tie-in to the county’s overall transit plan, and a new funding scheme using no property tax money mean a new outcome that puts an expanded streetcar project into the “yes” column with the Charlotte City Council? (see my article at PlanCharlotte.org).
(Other news coverage from Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal is here, and from the Charlotte Observer's Steve Harrison here. For those of you who don't get the print edition, Harrison's article was splashed in a major way atop the front page.)
Among the many questions yet to be answered:
Changing minds? Will any of the six council members who last year opposed the streetcar change their minds, now that it's being paid for without property taxes and will, presumably, have the blessing of the Metropolitan Transit Commission? Council member Patrick Cannon, who is expected to run for mayor, told me those two things make it easier for him to support the streetcar. Note, however, he did not give an unequivocal "Yes, I'll support it."
Thumb on scale at USDOT? Would having Mayor Anthony Foxx running the U.S. Department of Transportation (he's been nominated but not yet confirmed) increase the chances of the streetcar winning federal transit funding, from either the New Starts or the Small Starts pots of funds?
New name? As new (since April 1) City Manager Ron Carlee told the council Monday night, "The streetcar is not a toy...." By renaming it the CityLynx Gold Line the city hopes to make the point that it's just one part of the larger transit system strategy. Memo to city: The new name is TOO LONG.
Carlee, city staff, and the CEO of the Charlotte Area Transit System, Carolyn Flowers, teamed to give a presentation Monday night at the council’s dinner meeting, signaling a new approach to the controversial streetcar proposal. Last June, the council’s disagreements over the streetcar helped scuttle a larger proposal for a five-year capital projects plan.
Carlee said he thought the streetcar expansion project – adding 2.5 miles to an already-funded 1.5-mile streetcar “starter” project – would compete well for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.