Where is the streetcar project headed without federal grant? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Where is the streetcar project headed without federal grant?

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Charlotte's streetcar plan relied heavily on a federal grant, the TIGER grant worth $24 million.  The Transportation Department this week denied Charlotte's request. City leaders are talking about that rejection.

Big construction projects need big money.  And the streetcar project in Charlotte needs it too. Phase 1 already has it.

"That's the starter part. So, the starter part is fully funded.  We don't start these projects until they're fully funded," said City council member David Howard, "What we were doing was trying to get funding for a second phase."

But the city's application for a federal grant for the second phase was just denied.

"There's other ways to fund. This was just the first time out. This shouldn't be looked at as anything than that," said Howard.

And the CEO of the Charlotte Area Transportation System, Carolyn Flowers agreed.  She said there's more money out there, even if the city was passed over for this $24 million for phase 2.

"Also, if we package the entire alignment,  we also have the opportunity for a new starts construction grant like we got for the extension for light rail," said Flowers.

The current streetcar line, which runs from Time Warner Cable Arena to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center,  is expected to be complete by Spring of 2015. Does this federal denial change that timeline?

"So, I don't think this is the end of the world nor is it a major delay to our overall plan," said Flowers.

Some thought the former Mayor of Charlotte Anthony Foxx, now the head of the U. S. Department of Transportation would have some pull now that he is in DC.  Councilman Howard said Foxx couldn't put us at the top of the pile.

"For me it's more of a bragging right.  I don't think I expected him to start sending us checks," said Howard.

As Mayor, Anthony Foxx pushed heavily for the streetcar project before leaving office earlier this summer. He's still a streetcar fan and praised Kansas City who did get federal grant money for its streetcar project.  But he says he can't comment on Charlotte's applications because he recused himself.

The current mayor, Kinsey says she would have been pleasantly surprised if the city had secured a grant this cycle and doesn't view this as a setback.  She says the city is pursuing many funding opportunities.

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