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CATS is looking for public input on plans to develop new light rail station in South End

Significant growth in the South End area has highlighted the public need for more accessible transit options.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Area Transit System is seeking public input on plans to develop a new light rail station in South End. 

The rapid economic and residential growth of Charlotte's South End area, along with the creation of the LYNX Blue Line in 2007, has increased the need for more accessible transit options. The plans would situate the new LYNX blue line station halfway between the New Bern and East/West stations. 

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The light rail station project stems from the partnership between CATS, Center City Partners, and various residential and retail stakeholders in South End.

Some residents like Melany Ruiz who depend on public transportation to get around applaud the move.

"I work near here and sometimes I have to walk all the way to my job," she said. "It's like 12 minutes. So a station over there would be nice because then I would be close."

"Having the stop closest to shopping, or retail, or grocery stores that is what is the missing link for a lot of people," Garrett McCafferty, a South End resident, said.

The stop will not only give riders more options for transit but will serve as an easy and safe way to cross the light rail tracks. 

According to CATS senior engineer Todd Thorne, there's a seven-block stretch between Remount Road and Tremont Avenue where people can't cross the tracks. 

"We want to give people a chance to move to one side or the other," Thorne said.

CATS held a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 9, via the CATS youtube channel, and an in-person meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the Charlotte Urban Design Center. 

There are a few different places the city could put the new station, and engineers have narrowed it down to three options. 

One option is putting the stop right behind the Publix on South Boulevard, and the other side would be on the rail trail.

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"There would be a lot of infrastructure, storm drainage, fire access, all that, that would have to be rebuilt," Thorne said of the first option. "There would be a lot of construction right next to Spectrum Apartments.”

The second option puts the stop further north, by the Atherton Lofts and the current Sycamore Brewing location. 

"We liked being near the energy of Atherton Mill and all that’s going on right there but the issue is the topography is not very flat out there," Thorne said. "So it’s difficult to tie everything together well."

The third option combines the first two plans but offsets the platforms with a connecting pathway in the middle. This means the northbound platform would be in one spot and the southbound platform would be in the other.

"Kind of combined the best and reduced some of the risks and disruptions of both of those options," Thorne said. "And so, we call that the offset option. And that is what our staff has recommended as the future site of the station."

Thorne said in Tuesday night's public meeting that stakeholders prefer the offset option because it better suits the surrounding apartments and minimizes disruption of the rail service during construction.

"It's the most accessible option," Thorne said.

Thorne said funding is, in part, coming from leftover money not spent on the Blue Line extension as well as from private partners. 

The public can also email feedback: SouthEndStation@publicinput.com or riders can call 704-336-RIDE (7433).

Transit officials will vote to adopt the new station plan on Aug. 24. The goal is to have the stop open and operating by the end of 2026.

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