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Charlotte Light Rail (Test 10 of 10)

Charlotte Area Transit System wants to City Council to approve a $50 million design contract so the transit system can know how much a new light rail project will cost. But some council members are concerned about spending the money before the city has funding to pay for the 26-mile LYNX Silver Line. When Charlotte was planning the original light rail line, the city first asked voters to approve a half-cent sales tax for transit in 1998. With that money in place, the city began spending millions of dollars on design to understand how much the Blue Line would cost.

But for the Silver Line, CATS wants to do things in reverse. It wants City Council to approve a $50 million engineering contract with WSP USA. But CATS hasn’t shared with the public how it might pay for the Silver Line, which would run from Matthews to Charlotte Douglas International Airport – and possibly across the Catawba River into Gaston County. It’s been estimated to cost at least $3 billion. That concerned council member Ed Driggs. “We can’t commit to $50 million on speculation,” Driggs said. “What assumptions are you making about the amount of federal funding we’re going to get as a result of the federal process?” Council members will be asked to approve the $50 million contract later this month.