Monday, April 9, 2012

Remember that streetcar project?

The much-debated Charlotte streetcar project is due to begin construction in December or January, City Engineer Jeb Blackwell tells me. He said property acquisition has begun already. Utility line work is probably the first thing you'll see happening.

This isn't the full Beatties Ford Road-uptown-Central Avenue streetcar route that's part of the Charlotte Area Transit System's 2030 transit plan. This is a 1.5-mile segment between Presbyterian Hospital and the Charlotte Transportation Center at East Trade Street at the Lynx light rail tracks.

The segment is being paid for with a $25 million federal grant and $12 million in city funds that were allocated in 2010. None of the city money came from operating funds (the kind that pays the salaries of police officers, for instance).

Those tracks you see along Elizabeth Avenue were installed several years ago, during a street improvement project that tore up the street for months. The city decided to go ahead and put in the tracks so it wouldn't have to tear up that part of the street again if/when the streetcar project got going. Then the federal grant came through.