Lynx Blue Line to UNC Charlotte won’t open in August as planned - | WBTV Charlotte

Lynx Blue Line to UNC Charlotte won’t open in August as planned

(Davie Hinshaw | The Charlotte Observer) (Davie Hinshaw | The Charlotte Observer)
CHARLOTTE, NC (Steve Harrison/The Charlotte Observer) -

The Lynx Blue Line Extension to UNC Charlotte won’t open in August 2017 as planned and might not open until next March, the Charlotte Area Transit System said Monday night.

Delays in moving utilities, and other problems, have made it impossible for CATS to open the line this year, CATS chief executive John Lewis said. While most of the track has been laid and the stations have been finished, there are “thousands of electrical connections that need to be made,” Lewis said.

Other unfinished work includes testing vehicles and signals.

Lewis said he thinks the $1.1 billion extension will be finished by March 2018 – the federal government’s deadline for CATS to finish the project. If CATS can’t open the extension by March, it may have to pay the Federal Transit Administration financial penalties.

“I’m confident that we will meet that deadline,” Lewis said.

Construction on the 9.3-mile extension began three years ago. CATS divided construction work among numerous contractors and different segments, and the project fell behind. One problem was moving utilities. Another complication was working along the Norfolk Southern railroad.

“We are down to the wire,” Lewis said. “But there isn’t enough time to finish the kind of detail and signals and system work that’s left while still leaving enough time to test.”

Lewis said the $1.16 billion project is still $87 million under budget. He said he doesn’t believe the project will go over budget.

CATS hoped that the lead contractor, Balfour Beatty, would be able to turn over the rail corridor to CATS in March. Lewis said CATS will have a better idea in May whether the project could open before March 2018.

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