In November 2007, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) opened the South Corridor Light Rail Transit System (SCLRT), known as the “LYNX” Blue Line, marking the first use of light rail transit in the history of North Carolina, USA. The 9.6-mile project links south Charlotte with the uptown City of Charlotte, connecting local neighbourhoods and businesses. STV was involved in this project from the start, playing a lead role that included the design and construction management oversight of 13 bridges, 15 stations, infrastructure improvements, track/catenary system, and major facilities including the 92,000-square-foot vehicle maintenance facility and 1,000-space parking garage.
The SCLRT project offers significant social/economic impacts. The project improved the vitality of the 9.6-mile-long corridor, resulting in the conversion of an underutilized industrial area to a bustling commercial/residential neighbourhood. Many businesses have sprouted along the corridor, and mixed-use development has grown. The Center for Transit oriented development estimates that nearly 10,000 square feet of new commercial and residential development along the Northeast Corridor. The station areas have established their own unique social characters, becoming “meeting places” each morning for commuters.
The SCLRT project converted the South Boulevard area from a corridor that was uninviting to shoppers into a thriving community with connectivity of various modes of transportation, including pedestrians and bicyclists. This new system has positioned the entire community for balanced growth for generations to come.
STV worked for the SCLRT with CATS to help secure the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and state funding. Predicted to carry an average 9,100 riders per day when opened, the system is now carrying more than 16,000 riders per day.
Because this project became successful very quickly, CATS decided to add the Blue Line Extension (BLE) in 2008. This will add another 9.3 miles to the line, extending service to the northeast from Center City Charlotte to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Scheduled to open in 2017, the $900 million BLE includes 11 stations accommodating three-car trains, three parking garages, one surface parking lot, and a storage yard with an operations building. The alignment includes three light rail bridges over active freight railroad tracks, six light rail/roadway grade separations, and 20 at-grade crossings.
STV completed transportation planning services for the BLE in 2012, which included a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and final environmental impact statement (FEIS), operations planning, preliminary engineering, and support for the client’s successful federal and state full funding grant agreements.
STV worked with CATS to identify more than $200 million in value engineering and project scope reductions. STV then accelerated the corresponding redesign and supplemental environmental investigations to incorporate the project changes into the FEIS.
Find out more about the work of STV who are partnering and exhibiting at SmartRail USA (29-30th October, Charlotte, NC) alongside Carolyn Flowers (CEO, CATS) and senior executives from San Francisco Municipal Transportation agency (SFMTA), Metrolink (California), Miami-Dade Transit, MARTA, Metra Chicago and many more . Founded over 100 years ago, STV has grown to become a leading, award-winning professional firm offering engineering, architectural, planning, environmental, and construction management services. For more www.stvinc.com