LYNX Red Line
|LYNX Red Line|
|System||LYNX Rapid Transit Services|
|Locale||Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina|
|Termini||Uptown/Gateway Station (south)
Mount Mourne (north)
|Owner||Charlotte Area Transit System|
|Operator(s)||Charlotte Area Transit System|
|Line length||25 mi (40 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Red Line is a planned commuter rail extension for the LYNX network in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Red Line, or North Corridor, would serve as a commuter rail line between Mount Mourne in southern Iredell County and the proposed Gateway Station in Uptown Charlotte. It would primarily serve the towns of Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson in northern Mecklenburg County.
It is proposed to follow a northerly path along the existing Norfolk Southern O Line right-of-way, roughly paralleling North Graham Street and North Carolina Highway 115, as it extends through north Mecklenburg County. It is estimated to be 25 miles (40 km) in length . Originally, it was cost $261 million to complete the first phase by 2012 and an additional $112 million to complete phase two by 2019; the line would contain 1,200 parking spaces and 10 stations along the corridor. However, several issues have arisen that have increased the project's price tag, and it currently has no scheduled construction or operations start date.
Design and planning
By 2011, the Lynx Red Line was planned to be built in one phase. Due to less revenue in the transit tax, in January the Metropolitan Transit Commission voted that the Lynx Red Line along with the Blue Line extension were the top two priorities, leaving the streetcar to be funded by the city and postponing further work on the LYNX Silver Line and the Airport corridor until after the Red Line and Blue line projects were completed. The Red Line is projected to be in operation by mid to late 2018.
Lack of feasibility
By June 2011 the project had been 90% designed and an operating agreement was signed with Norfolk Southern, but the project lacked nearly 80% of the needed funds to begin construction. In October 2012, The Charlotte Observer noted "the Red Line...has little chance of federal funding, and CATS may not have enough money to pay for even a portion of construction costs. The N.C. DOT is working on creative ways to finance the project, but it appears to be years away."
On October 17, 2012, the N.C. DOT, the Red Line Task Force and CATS requested Norfolk Southern to conduct a study of the "Red Line" concept. As the Red Line would utilize the NS O-Line between Charlotte and Mooresville, the study would determine if and how both freight and passenger services could use the same line while allowing normal freight services to continue. It was estimated at a meeting of the task force on October 24 that the study would be initiated by late January 2013 and completed by early 2014, after which further feasibility studies and projections could be made. However, in early 2013, Norfolk Southern expressed its doubts the $416 million project would be feasible.
On June 25, 2014, following the completion and release of the feasibility study, CATS officials said the Red Line would be too costly and complicated to build. Several reasons were provided, including:
- The continued refusal of Norfolk Southern to share its existing trackage with CATS, which would necessitate the construction of a railway line parallel to the NS rails. This would increase the overall project cost by $215 million and cause "multiple disruptions to adjacent communities" as building a parallel rail line would involve construction costs, right-of-way purchases and the complete rebuilding of all road intersections along the proposed line.
- The project's ineligibility for federal funding due to low ridership projections.
- The inability of CATS to fund the Red Line on its own.
Despite the negative assessments of the feasibility study, the Metropolitan Transit Commission, including the Red Line task force, did not take any official steps to disband the project. While the director of the N.C. DOT rail division, Paul Worley, said he would work with Norfolk Southern officials to begin a study concerning the proposed Gateway Station, he said the Red Line concept would not be included as "no viable plan" for it now existed. Though the mayor of Davidson, John Woods, said the results of the feasibility study were "a serious setback," he added that developing transit in the northern portion of Mecklenburg County remained important for the region, and one possible alternative to a commuter rail line could be bus rapid transit.
- "North Corridor Commuter Rail Project" (pdf). Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- "2030 Transit Corridor System Plan". Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- "Red Line Project". Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- "Home". RedLine Regional Rail. Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- "Major blow dealt to CATS Red Line project". WCNC-TV. June 27, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- Harrison, Steve (June 26, 2014). "Charlotte commuter train price jumps by $215M". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- "Light-rail extension moves to fast track; CATS to announce federal funding for uptown-to-UNCC line". The Charlotte Observer. October 15, 2012.
- "Light Rail Task Force Agenda - Summary" (pdf). Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). October 24, 2012.
- "Leaders: Charlotte area can't pay for transit needs". The Charlotte Observer. April 12, 2013.