Charlotte’s Gold Line streetcar to close until 2021

Charlotte’s Gold Line streetcar to close until 2021
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Charlotte’s streetcar will soon close for more than a year.

Charlotte Area Transit System announced Tuesday that the city’s Gold Line would shut down this summer until potentially 2021 as construction on the beleaguered project continues.

The streetcar currently runs 1.5 miles from Hawthorne Street west to the Charlotte Transportation Center in the heart of Uptown. CATS is currently working on the $150 million Phase 2 of the project, which would extend the line another 2.5 miles west to Johnson C. Smith University.

CATS says the current Gold Line will close starting June 3 until the second phase is completed. This is expected to be done by late 2020 or early 2021 — though the timeline has recently been pushed back several times.

[Agenda related story: As Plaza Midwood construction hits a major setback, what’s next for the $187 million Charlotte streetcar?]

Boarding the Charlotte streetcar

CATS says the closure is needed to raise platforms on the existing line.

When the Gold line reopens, the old-fashioned green trolleys currently being used will be replaced with more modern-looking cars. The streetcar will continue to operate in the standard car traffic lanes.

Rendering via CATS

The need to close the existing line is not unexpected, but the length of the closure is.

CATS told the City Council in April that the existing line would close for six to eight months to raise its stations by a few inches. That timeline appears to have been extended to get the entire project done more quickly.

“This work is being done now as part of the effort to restructure work to maintain the overall project schedule,” CATS spokeswoman Juliann Sheldon told the Agenda. Since the April council meeting, the contractor building the line requested early access to the stations, she said.

While the line is closed, CATS will operate a bus service along the Gold Line.

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