City Council approves $7.7 million for second phase of streetcar line

City Council approves $7.7 million for second phase of streetcar line

CHARLOTTE, NC (Jane Wester/The Charlotte Observer) - The Charlotte City Council approved $7.7 million for further design work on the second phase of the streetcar line in a 7-4 vote Monday evening.

The first segment of the streetcar, or CityLynx Gold Line, is scheduled to open July 14. That 1.5-mile segment will run from Time Warner Cable Arena to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center.

Charlotte has already spent $6.7 million on design work for the second phase of the line, which would reach Johnson C. Smith University in one direction and Sunnyside Avenue in Elizabeth in the other direction. It would open in 2019.

The city is expected to pay $75 million of the $150 million cost of the second phase of the project. The other half could be paid with a grant in President Barack Obama's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

But nothing can be certain in Washington, D.C., Mayor Dan Clodfelter said at Monday's council meeting, and projects without local support are least likely to succeed in a competitive federal budget process.

"If you don't proceed with this agenda item tonight, everything comes to a screeching halt," he said.

Republican Ed Driggs voted against the money for design work and said the lack of a firm federal commitment concerned him.

"The president's budget is by no means assured," he said.

Democrats Michael Barnes and David Howard debated whether the city was exploring every possible funding source for the streetcar.

Howard, who voted for the $7.7 million, said he thought the city was "looking under every rock."

"We're even talking about naming stations," he said. "We're looking at every source there is."

Barnes voted against the streetcar money and said he wants to be honest with people about the limited reach of the streetcar.

"There is no funding in place that would take the streetcar beyond Sunnyside Drive or Johnson C. Smith," he said.

Democrat Claire Greene Fallon and Republican Kenny Smith also voted against the $7.7 million.