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Group petitions Norfolk Southern to change policy to get Lynx Red Line project back on track

Updated: Mar. 17, 2021 at 6:04 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A local group in Charlotte is working to put the Lynx Red line back on track.

The original plan called for a passenger train to connect Northern Mecklenburg areas to Uptown.

One idea had the train using the existing railroad owned by Norfolk Southern — but the railroad company says that can’t happen.

MORE: Mobility sales tax proposal “offensive” to people in North Mecklenburg County

Sustain Charlotte started this petition to try and change the prospects. In just a few weeks it gained more than one thousand signatures.

“We can’t fit all those cars on the roads we have,” said Shannon Binns, founder and executive director of Sustain Charlotte.

His groups said Charlotte could increase in populations by 400,000 in 20 years.

And an average of 100 people move here everyday. He said Charlotte is growing and transit needs to be priority for the community to grow well.

A passenger train connecting North Mecklenburg County to Uptown was the solution. The plan was to share Norfolk Southern’s tracks already in an ideal location.

But Norfolk Southern said that couldn’t happen because of an internal policy regarding which kinds of trains can use their tracks.

“This is an opportunity for them to support the community in which they operate but also make some money. They should lease these tracks to CATS and allow people to actually use them,” Binns said.

But in a statement to WBTV, Norfolk Southern address the petition and said “we do not have any further comment as our stance on the issue has not changed.”

He hopes the petition and sees how many people are in support of the passenger train in these areas will change their minds. He says without it, Charlotte could be dealing with major traffic issues and not enough room to grow.

“I don’t think it will stop growth but it will make living here much more painful,” said Binns.

More than 1,000 people have signed the petition with dozens more signing each hour, like Theresa McDonald.

“We don’t have to travel into the future. We can look at other cities that are further in growth than us who did not invest in public transit. We don’t want to go that route,” McDonald said.

Binns said community leaders and state leaders continue to speak with Norfolk Southern about a possible solution. As those conversations continue, many people hold out hope the red line project isn’t pushed too far off the rails.

“It’s all very disappointing but I feel Norfolk Southern and North Carolina, they have the key to solve this problem,” McDonald said.

The Town of Huntersville recently decided to oppose a proposed transit tax which could help fund the Red Line. Huntersville leaders said residents have paid taxes on the project for far too long without getting anything in return.

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