Temporary transit center relocation would accommodate DNC in 2012

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by STEVE HARRISON / Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on August 4, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 4 at 3:54 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Area Transit System said it's gotten a "strong indication" that the main bus station uptown will have to be moved because of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and officials have started planning where they can create a temporary transit center.

CATS chief executive Carolyn Flowers, speaking at a luncheon Wednesday, said the transit system hasn't heard officially from the local host committee about the size of the security perimeter around Time Warner Cable Arena, where President Barack Obama is expected to be renominated. But because the transit center is across Trade Street from the arena, CATS probably will have to pack up.

"We're having internal discussions (about where to move)," said Olaf Kinard, director of marketing and communications for CATS. "It's preliminary."

Security plans will not be determined until much closer to the convention, said Kristie Greco, spokesperson for the Democratic National Convention Committee.

"One of the DNCC's top priorities is to minimize impact on Charlotteans' daily routines during the week of the convention," she said.

The Charlotte Transportation Center is the nerve center for the city's rail and bus service. It's not only a start-and-go point for thousands of uptown workers, it's also a hub for switching buses. It is adjacent to the CTC/Arena light-rail station, which probably would be temporarily closed as well.

Kinard declined to speculate where CATS might move. But he said the transit system is equipped to handle a move, and has three times moved bus operations from the center as part of emergency drills.

"It's not something that we haven't done before," Kinard said.

He said if the center is moved, CATS would want to "maintain synergy with light rail and bus."

CATS said it expects to have an official indication about the security perimeter early next year.

In addition to events at the arena, the Charlotte Convention Center also might be used for the DNC. That could force closing the light-rail line through uptown because the train bisects the center.

"It's too early to tell," Kinard said.

Security decisions will not be finalized until much closer to the convention than even the beginning of 2012.  The security team consisting of local and federal law enforcement will make those decisions, not the DNCC.

In addition, the Committee told NewsChannel 36 this afternoon that Uptown and the transit system will be open for business during the Convention.

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