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Charlotte city leaders moving forward with $13.5 billion transportation plan

Just last week, CATS spoke of a 2022 derailment, deferred maintenance, and a lack of inspections for more than a two-year period.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) held a meeting Monday for the community to share input on how they’d like the future rail trail to be routed along the LYNX Silver Line in the Village Lake and Woodberry Forest area of east Charlotte.  

The meeting was held at the Independence Regional Library on Conference Drive. This is part of the CATS system that looks at the alignment of the Village Lake and Woodberry Forest stops on the line’s proposed expansion. 

This is despite some elected leaders' concerns about CATS' previous leadership and operational issues.

“We have a transit system that is in crisis, and has failed us over and over again, is something that we cannot soft pedal, or overlook, we can only deal with it with a lot of sunshine and a lot of accountability," Mecklenburg County Commissioner Leigh Altman said.

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Despite these concerns, Charlotte and Mecklenburg County leaders continue to support the city’s $13.5 billion transportation plan.

The plan relies on a one-cent sales tax referendum, which first requires approval of the Republican-led general assembly in Raleigh.

State lawmakers have expressed doubts over the plan, which includes miles of rapid transit corridors like bussing, a greenway system, a bicycle network, and light rail, mainly the expansion of the Silver Line.

Just last week, CATS spoke of a 2022 derailment and a lack of inspections for more than a two-year period. Leaders said problems with the CATS system must be addressed. This is something that Councilmember Tariq Bokhari recently spoke of. 

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"On one side of the coin, I have deep concerns about how we got here," Bokhari said. "On the other side, I’m not that surprised because this has been a story a long time in the making. We had a real big leadership issue in CATS that we're now just trying to recover from." 

Chair of the city's transportation committee, Councilman Edmund Driggs, told WCNC Charlotte the past issues shouldn't stop the planning for Charlotte's future transit system.

“The outlook has not changed," Driggs said. "We are continuing to pursue the goals that we established.”

He called the neglect of maintenance and inspections troubling but feels confident that new leadership at CATS is working to fix it. 

"I believe that a lot of what went on was a function of discord among senior managers, three of whom -- the top three managers have left so, we now have interim managers," Driggs explained.

Inspections of CATS elevated structures that the Blue Line runs across, as well as some parking garages, have begun and will last through April 11. 

Work has begun to overhaul the Blue Line's rail cars but CATS will need city council's approval to sign a new $30 million contract to overhaul the entire fleet at a faster pace.

Contact Richard DeVayne at rdevayne@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram  


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