Washington, D.C. — U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a $180 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) for construction of the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension. The TIFIA loan will support the expansion of the popular light rail system from Center City Charlotte to the UNC Charlotte Campus.

“This project is already catalyzing economic growth and opportunity by connecting the city’s financial, high tech and cultural centers with the thriving UNCC campus and giving commuters an alternative to sitting in traffic on I-85 and U.S. 29.  The project also connects and will help revitalize many historically underserved neighborhoods,” said Secretary Foxx.  “The Blue Line extension is an important piece of the overall transit system that Charlotte needs in order to thrive in the 21st Century.”

CATS officials estimate that the light rail extension will create approximately 7,600 jobs during construction with total light rail ridership at more than 18,900 additional riders each weekday when the extension opens in 2018. The 9.3 mile extension will add service along what will become an 18.6-mile light rail corridor in Northeast Charlotte and will help to reduce congestion along Interstate 85 and US Route 29, where commercial and residential growth is expected to continue.

“The LYNX Blue Line extension is critical to the City of Charlotte. The TIFIA loan reduces financing costs to ensure that CATS can complete this project and have a more robust capital plan going forward,” said Lana Hurdle, DOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs.

In addition to the $180 million TIFIA loan, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing $580 million for the $1.16 billion project through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program. The remaining cost is covered by state and local funding.

“For residents and visitors alike, Charlotte’s transportation system provides a lifeline to jobs, attractions, events, and all that Charlotte has to offer,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “With this project, CATS, the City of Charlotte, and the State of North Carolina continue to make the critical investments in modern infrastructure that riders expect and deserve.”