CHARLOTTE – Charlotte City Council members need more information from their planning staff before deciding whether to start pre-project development on the proposed LYNX Silver Line.
Council members have lots of questions for the city’s planning staff about funding for the project. Pre-project development will cost $50 million, which will come from the Charlotte Area Transit System budget and current sales taxes. CATS Deputy Director John Muth said $9 million is programmed in the current fiscal year. There will be check-in points with the council and Metropolitan Transit Commission about progress.
Many council members were concerned about voting to start pre-development with the absence of a definitive cost for the entire project and concrete federal and state funding.
Muth said voting to move forward with pre-project development will make it easier to figure out the big-picture solution.
According to City Manager Marcus Jones, the phases of development are not unique to Charlotte. Every municipality is required to go through these phases, including pre-project development, in order to get federal funds. He said once the project gets to the 30% mark of pre-project when designing, they will have a better idea of the total cost.
Muth said planning staff would not recommend moving forward from pre-project development to project development until the full funding picture of the project was known.
Councilman Tariq Bokhari said the lack of information and conversation about the topic among city council makes him hesitant to vote on the matter in two weeks at the city council meeting Oct. 28.
“Ultimately, we’re going to get to a point where we run out of money and we don’t know where to go because we haven’t had these conversations and we’re going to look back and it’s going to be a long way back to where we started,” he said.
Bokhari said until those conversations are had, he thinks moving this forward is “incredibly reckless.”
Mayor Vi Lyles said it is important to have a conversation with the board, transportation staff and planning staff, along with representatives from Matthews, Indian Trail, Stallings and other towns that will be affected by the development of the Silver Line.
Lyles also reminded the council that they approved the CATS budget earlier this year and will have to decide whether there will be a Silver Line.
Councilman Larken Egleston said if the city claims to commit to having a robust transit system, it needs to understand that risks will need to be taken.