Greeted by Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx kicked off a tour of development along the LYNX Blue Line Extension during a stop at the UNC Charlotte Main Station on Tuesday, Oct. 25.
Joining the former Charlotte mayor and the chancellor were Shaun Donovan (not pictured), director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Mayor Jennifer Roberts, along with Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles and University area Councilman Greg Phipps (not pictured).
The purpose of the tour is to highlight investment along the light rail line and to portray mass transit as a key strategy to increase accessibility and to reduce poverty and segregation. The two federal officials also toured the improvements on North Tryon Street resulting from the light rail extension project.
With several the University’s brick-clad residence halls on one side and construction equipment to the other, Dubois told Foxx and Donovan that light rail will do more than any other effort in the past to connect the campus to the center of Charlotte.
Light rail is considered vitally important to UNC Charlotte and the city by connecting the community to higher education.
When the main UNC Charlotte campus was being developed in the 1960s, Dubois said, no one thought it was essential for the University to be closely connected to the city.
“This has all changed,” he said. “We know now that you need to be part of the fabric of the community you serve. We have taken many steps to ensure we are more closely linked.
“Absolutely nothing can replace what light rail will mean for this campus and the community,” he stated, adding that students and others will be able to take advantage of trains stopping numerous times a day on campus.
UNC Charlotte showed its commitment to light rail by granting a right-of-way for the campus portion of the line. The right-of-way was valued at $4 million.
For his part, Foxx said: “I am delighted to make this our first stop today. This (light rail extension) was one of the last things I did as mayor. It’s a great way to revitalize this part of the city.”
Beginning in summer 2017, new light rail stations at Ninth Street – beside UNC Charlotte Center City – J.W. Clay- UNC Charlotte at North Tryon Street and UNC Charlotte Main on Cameron Boulevard at Wallis Hall will bring the convenience of light rail to the University’s doorstep.
And as part of the Blue Line Extension, eight other new light rail stations – and related bus routes – will provide an alternative to using automobiles.
The prospect of bringing more people to and from campus for work, performing arts, athletic events, festivals and other activities will prove revolutionary for students, staff, faculty, alumni and visitors.
Following the event, Foxx and Donovan and the others jumped into a waiting CATS bus that took them along the light rail extension corridor to First Ward Park.
Read more about how light rail will allow for a new dimension of connectivity between UNC Charlotte and the neighborhoods and business districts along the Blue Line.