by Sam Hieb
Charlotte Observer headline reads:
City Council approves $50 million Silver Line contract. Here’s what happens next.
Actually my headline is more accurate, because–based on the Observer’s article—no one really knows what happens next, at least when it comes to funding. And that’s the most important part, right?
The proposed Silver Line would run east-west from Matthews to north of uptown, then westward past the airport and across the Catawba River to the Gaston County town of Belmont, at an estimated cost of $3-$4 billion. Funding options are totally up in the air, and I would venture to say last week’s defeat of the arts-and-parks quarter-cent sales hike does not bode well, considering a referendum to raise the transit tax was floated.
In addition to the $50 million contract to begin work on the Silver Line, the council also unanimously approved a $1.2 million contract with Kittelson & Associates to plan for “transit-oriented” development along the new rail line. OK, I’m confused–council members Ed Driggs and Tariq Bokhari, who—according to the Observer— “have been most vocal in challenging the project’s finances”—-turn around and vote for transit-oriented development along a rail line that may not come to pass.
Stay tuned–this issue isn’t going anywhere.