The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Mayor Vi Lyles and CATS CEO John Lewis. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Area Transit.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Mayor Vi Lyles and CATS CEO John Lewis. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Area Transit.  

North Carolina's Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) opened its newly expanded LYNX Blue Line light rail service after nearly five years of construction.

The 9.3-mile extension, coined the Blue Line Extension (BLE) during construction, continues the alignment north from the previous terminus stop at 7th Street Station and now culminates at UNC Charlotte’s main campus.

Opening day festivities took place all along the alignment with Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles remarking on the connections the extension of the LYNX Blue Line will bring to the Queen City.

The Blue Line Extension features 11 new stations on the LYNX Blue Line. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Area Transit.

The Blue Line Extension features 11 new stations on the LYNX Blue Line. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Area Transit. 

Light rail has been transformative in the south corridor, spurring over $1.5 billion in transit oriented development along the LYNX Blue Line, which opened in November 2007. The BLE is poised to show similar economic growth potential for the Northeast corridor. Currently, the extension has already attracted new private development along the line with nearly $500 million in projects completed, planned, or under construction. Projection totals for economic development in the area are slated to hit $4.4 billion by 2035.

The Blue Line Extension features 11 new stations on the LYNX Blue Line. Each new station has beautiful public art and the entire alignment boasts more than 570 artwork contributions. An additional 3,100 parking spots are also being added at four new park and ride locations. The alignment is bike friendly with each new station featuring bike racks, which are also art installments.

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