Charlotte Area Transit System has scrapped plans to tunnel under uptown in order to expand the city’s light rail line:

Uptown is the densest part of the city, and an east-west line needs a way through.

“We started with a spaghetti of lines,” said Lawrence. “Time is of the essence. We have to start advancing this line.”

CATS staff looked at several options, including a mile-long tunnel that would run mostly along Trade Street. But that plan came with high costs — some estimates put it at $1 billion, and the required depth and methods of tunneling aren’t known yet — and staff ultimately decided that was too risky.

“There were concerns about advancing a tunnel option,” said Lawrence.

In lieu of the tunnel, CATS staff recommends a route that would run mostly along uptown’s north and west, part of it running parallel to I-277. Plans to extend the proposed Red Line north to Mooresville have also been scrapped because Norfolk Southern has refused has refused to grant the right-of-way along its freight lines. Instead CATS will run express buses on the Interstate 77 toll lanes at rush hour. But plans to connect the Silver Line to Matthews with the airport are still in place.

But the eternal question remains–where’s the money?