CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – There are major changes coming to uptown centered around the home of the Hornets. A part of the $275 million dollar plan for Spectrum Center upgrades includes an underground transit center.
Charlotte City leaders will decide on Plan A or Plan B for upgrades to the Spectrum Center.
“Plan A” would put the transit center in the basement of the new development on top of the current CTC. The idea of the below-ground transportation center has some riders concerned for safety.
“The flow and the way it works in Charlotte, it’s just easier to have it above ground,” rider Deion Alexander said. “I’ve seen people get robbed in subway stations and things like that and it’s just not worth it.”
In a nearly three-hour-long economic development meeting originally planned for 90 minutes, Charlotte City Council and transportation leaders got the first look at what could be the underground transit facility. It includes space for retail and hotels on top of the transit center. The Hornets’ practice facility would be a part of the development. CATS CEO John Lewis says the current CTC was built in 1995 and has outlived its use. He says this project could modernize CATS.
“I think this is not something new in the transit industry,” Lewis said. “I think if you look nationwide there are multiple underground bus facilities and rail facilities that have been operated very well.”
The light rail would stay above ground. If the council approves Plan A, it would include a temporary transit center for riders while crews complete construction. Some council members expressed concerns ranging from safety to air quality.
“I think those environmental issues we should take that seriously,” Councilman Braxton Winston said. “I don’t think the suggestion that transit has been doing something all over the country is sufficient especially when you put an equity lens on the way transit has been developed.”
Transportation leaders say this underground center would not be as deep as a subway.
“When you think of this below-ground facility we don’t want you to think of it as a parking garage, think of it as an airline terminal,” Lewis said.
A transportation consultant called this facility “unhealthy, discriminatory and a public safety nightmare”, Councilman Gregg Phipps says leaders should consider that perspective.
“It doesn’t bring me great comfort to have a facility like that in the basement with other things on top of it,” Councilman Greg Phipps said.
Plan B would keep the transit center above ground and put the Hornets’ practice facility in this gravel parking lot across from the Federal Reserve Building. If you would like to weigh in on the project city leaders set up a survey on the website.