Streetcar debate intensifies, divides neighborhoods - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Streetcar debate intensifies, divides neighborhoods

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Some say the tracks installed on Elizabeth Avenue in East Charlotte are a road to nowhere. Others argue the tracks will change Charlotte's future.

Mayor Anthony Foxx's $120 million streetcar project has stirred up strong emotions, from council members and other citizens.

About 50 people showed up to an informational forum about the streetcar project, Tuesday night. Some were against the project, others had not made up their mind, and some wanted construction to begin immediately.

"I think that there's a misconception of the term street car.  They (people against) think it's kind of a touristy thing," said Charlottean Lisa Rudisill.

Rudisill says the streetcar will actually help pump business along its path. Rudisill joined other neighbors at this streetcar forum Tuesday night to hear the pros and cons.

"Are we going to move the city forward?" said Councilman John Autry.

Autry says the streetcar project won't go away. He says the project would only help, and people in West and East charlotte have been counting on it for years.

"Rail transit is going to be an important part of the city's future. Whether it's done this year, whether it's done next year or whether it's done two years from now," Autry said.

Last year, several council members promised their constituents a streetcar, but several council members including Claire Fallon, hit the brakes, calling the proposal "ridiculous."

"Who in their right mind on a rainy day is going to get on a streetcar, and then have to get on a transfer, stand in the rain for a bus?" Fallon said.

Fallon proposed splitting the $120 million project cost and giving $ 40 million to city council districts 2, 3, and 5 for infrastructure and economic improvements.

In 2006, the Charlotte Metro Transit Commission under then Mayor Pat McCrory approved the streetcar project as part of the 2030 transportation plan.

For more information on the streetcar, visit

http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/cats/planning/streetcar/pages/default.aspx

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