May 17, 2012

N.C. CATS, freights reach rail agreement

The North Carolina Railroad Co. (NCRR), the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) and Norfolk Southern Corp. signed lease, construction and operating agreements for the LYNX Blue Line Extension (BLE) light rail project along the North Carolina Railroad corridor.

The 50-year lease agreement is renewable for an additional 50 years. The lease agreement outlines the operating and construction parameters along the 2.7-mile segment, such as fair rental value of the property, construction plan review, lease negotiation and other expenses, and an adjustment for anticipated future appreciation of the leased property.

The LYNX Blue Line Extension (BLE) is a 9.4 mile extension of the existing light rail line that will serve the Northeast Corridor from Center City to UNC Charlotte. Light rail service will operate in nearly three miles of NCRR’s corridor when it opens in 2017.

As part of the agreement, CATS will make improved safety enhancements at 36th Street for freight and future passenger rail service by building a bridge over the railroad tier for pedestrians and vehicles.

Additional operational and construction agreements with Norfolk Southern allow CATS to construct, operate and maintain the BLE through North Charlotte.

In addition CATS also has an option with Norfolk Southern for acquisition of the current intermodal rail yard along Brevard Street north of Uptown Charlotte when Norfolk Southern moves its intermodal operations to a new facility now under construction at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. This land agreement allows CATS to accommodate two BLE transit stations, 25th Street Station and Parkwood Station, and part of the planned rail alignment.

NCRR owns and manages the 317-mile rail corridor extending across 16 counties from the Port of Morehead City to Charlotte and touching nearly a quarter of the state’s economy. The railroad carries 50-60 freight trains and 10 passenger trains daily. The oldest private company in the state, NCRR remains at the forefront of rail improvements and partnership development to promote jobs and rail-served industry.

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