CHARLOTTE, NC (Ely Portillo/The Charlotte Observer) - Charlotte officials plan to break ground Friday on the first part of Gateway Station, the long-planned but slow-to-come train station that would restart passenger rail service to uptown — but it will still be four years, or more, before the first trains roll in.
The groundbreaking planned this week includes the start of work for the tracks, signals, structures and passenger platform along the rail tracks. The 17-acre site runs along the train tracks between Bank of America Stadium and Ninth Street but remains mostly surface parking lots.
Funding for the first phase, estimated to cost $70 million to $80 million, includes a $30 million federal grant and a pledge of $48.75 million from the N.C. Department of Transportation. The city of Charlotte has also pledged $33 million from its capital budget for the station.
That work should be complete by 2022. But a station building for passengers is still required before rail service can actually resume, and building that will depend on the city finding a private developer to partner with. That construction timeline is unclear, though officials have previously said the earliest passenger rail service might start is 2024.
The Gateway Station would be connected to the uptown transit center and the Blue Line light rail by the streetcar line that's under construction on Trade Street. City planners hope that bringing rail service back to uptown will spark a major development boom around the station.
Trains ran uptown until 1962, when rail service was relocated to a facility on North Tryon Street that's now small, outdated and disconnected from the city's downtown center.