CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The increasingly popular Lynx Blue Line took another step toward expanding northward Thursday.
Officials from the Charlotte Area Transit System, UNC-Charlotte and state and local leaders signed a state full funding grant agreement for the 9.4-mile extension of the line from uptown Charlotte to the UNC-C campus in University City.
The agreement binds the N.C. Department of Transportation to pay for 25 percent, or $290 million, of the project's estimated $1.16 billion price tag.
Engineers and planners are in the final stages of planning the route.
The Federal Transit Administration is set to sign a funding agreement with CATS in August that will cover half of the project's cost.
The remaining amount will be paid for with funds generated from the half-cent sales tax for transit.
The southern portion of the line was completed in 2007 and ridership since has surpassed all projections and expectations, officials admit.
The line will be extended from 7th Street in uptown through NoDa before turning into the median of N. Tryon Street to pass through University City and eventually into the UNCC campus.
Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and service is set to start in 2017.