Charlotte councilmembers say no vote on LYNX Silver Line until more planning is done

How will city pay for light rail expansion

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - We’re still waiting to see how much of your tax dollars will be spent to help pay for the proposed LYNX Silver Line train service in the Charlotte.

City council says the light rail is set to run through Union, Mecklenburg and Gaston counties - making it three times longer than the LYNX Blue Line that’s running now.

However, we’re still waiting to find out who else is going to chip in for the cost. That’s part of the reason Charlotte’s city council is not deciding on the project that’s expected to cost at least $1 billion.

Just to get things off the ground, the LYNX Silver Line will cost at least $50 million. That money will be spent for a study where crews can find out how much the overall price tag for the project will be.

“It’s never cost me that much to study so," joked Cierra Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald rides the light rail every day to get to and from work. Charlotte city councilmembers say they are keeping taxpayers like Fitzgerlad in mind when making executive decisions on the light rail because the early overall cost is hefty.

“Citizens are going to look at us and ask, ‘Why did y’all approve that line?’ Why did y’all not look at other options?’” asked Councilman James Mitchell Jr. during Monday’s meeting.

“If it’s necessary, it’s necessary and if you have to do it, you have to do I’m willing to say that I would like my tax money to go towards something like that,” added Fitzgerald.

Ely Portillo is an assistant Director at UNC Charlotte. He’s been studying the Silver Line project and says it’s very possible councilmembers are trying to be careful about spending your money as they want to be in good graces when you cast your ballot next month.

“It is an election year right now so city council...not a ton of competitive seats, but those that are up for it...you have that factor,” said Portillo.

With such a large price tag – the city is looking for the federal government to help cut down costs. council members say the feds won’t fork over that money until the city makes some progress with the light rail on its own.

Union and Gaston counties are other areas that are included in the project as the light rail, but so far we don’t know if leaders there are looking to chip in money too.

“How much of the cost will born by the surrounding counties and not just by Charlotte?” Potillo questioned.

City council will bring up the light rail again when they meet on October 28th. A representatives for Union County says there have been no commitments from officials there to fund the project.

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