Charlotte, N.C. -- Charlotte's Gold Line Street Car will continue as planned after an 8 to 2 vote by the city council Monday night approved phase 2 of construction on the track.
Phase 1 of the Gold Line has been operational for over a year now, stretching 1.5 miles from the Charlotte Transit Center in Uptown, to Elizabeth.
"The majority of the council feels like the project is a benefit to the entire community," said Mayor Pro-Tem Vi Lyles. "It is a part of a network."
Construction is scheduled to start in January, extending the rail by 11 stops and 2.5 miles, half a mile to the east and 2 miles to the west out to Johnson C. Smith University. Lyles has been a supporter from the beginning.
"A modern rail, in the street right of way, as being the right way to build out our system," Lyles said.
But the modern rail is coming at a cost: the city of Charlotte, which many of you pay taxes to, is going to drop $94 million on a contract for the project. $14 million of that is for city improvements associated with the extension, leaving the cost of the actual Gold Line for the city at $80 million. To put it in perspective, there are 13,200 feet in 2.5 miles, which means that the Gold Line will cost $6,060.61 per foot.
"It's too expensive for the value that it offers," Council Member Ed Driggs said. "It was brought about in the first place only as a subversion for our transit plan and I believe there are better uses for the money."
Driggs was one of two members who voted against phase 2, which will only bring the Gold Line to 4 miles of it's anticipated 10-mile total.
"There's 6 miles left to go," Driggs said. "We have no idea where the money's going to come from."
You'll have to be patient if you want to ride the street car from JCSU over to the east side. Phase 2 is on schedule to be operational by August of 2020.
Phase 2 did have the potential to cost more: the city received a federal grant that's paying for a significant portion of this project.