Extending the light rail from Uptown to UNC Charlotte will cost just over $1 billion. That price tag has contributed to the project's sometimes on-again-off-again status as local, state and federal funds tighten.
But Danny Rogers - the Blue Line Extension's project manager for the city - says all the funding is nearly in place.
"Right now we're just waiting on the full-funding grant agreement - FTA recommended and has approved it, pending the congressional review," says Rogers.
That approval should come in the next month and will account for half of the $1 billion price tag. The other half will be split evenly between state money and Charlotte-area sales taxes earmarked for transit.
By next May, Rogers says we'll start seeing roads torn up to relocate utility lines and make way for rail. 2017 is the expected completion date.
A public meeting Thursday night will look even beyond that date to plan areas around the new light rail stations.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department is drafting a set of guiding principles for land within a half mile of each rail station.
These "Transit Station Area Plans" will "provide a framework for growth and development as it occurs over the next 5, 10, 20, 30 years," says senior planning coordinator Kathy Cornett.
"Area Plans" often include such detailed guidelines as how long new sidewalks should be and how high new buildings. Down the line, when developers try to get zoning changed to capitalize on light rail traffic, the city council will look first to the "Area Plans" being written now.
Thursday's meeting is at 6 p.m. at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church.
Two follow-up meetings will take place on October 18 and November 1 at the same time and place.
Click here for more information on Transit Station Area Plans for the Blue Line Extension.