We seen a handful of updates recently about the long awaited Silver Line, a transportation project that would transform southeast Charlotte between Independence Boulevard and Monroe Road. LYNX completed a transit study of the Silver Line and the southeast corridor and they have made great progress with setting forth a vision of a huge transportation project.
What is the Silver Line?
The Silver Line is a short-term and long-term plan to improve transit options and accessibility between Uptown and Matthews. The short-term is a rapid transit bus plan with park and rides down the corridor, including near Conference Drive and Sardis Road North. This plan will help ease congestion until the long-term plan is viable.
What are the long-term plans?
The long-term plan is a light-rail system stretching from Uptown down to CPCC Levine just past 485. The rail will hug Independence Boulevard, then connect to Monroe Road off of Village Lake. The rail will push along behind the Woodberry Forest neighborhood, then between some apartments and condos. There are 13 planned stops, with the hope to connect to the existing blue line and a future rail line to the airport. Specifically in the MoRA area, we have four proposed stations: Sharon Amity and Independence Boulevard, Conference Boulevard and Independence Boulevard, Village Lake and Monroe Road, and Galleria Boulevard and Monroe Road.
While preliminary, the more specific of the plans include replacing the shopping center behind Meridian Place with a station, and putting a station in or around residential property on Village Lake, just off of Monroe Road.
What will this do to the area?
We have seen the huge developmental impact the light-rail has had on South End and other parts of Charlotte, and would expect to see a similar result in southeast Charlotte. The rail system would connect residential and commercial, and plans have included 7 to 10 miles of adjacent pedestrian and cycling paths that would connect to the McAlpine Creek Greenway, additional parks, and additional planned trails. The expectation is the rail will remove access to side streets from Independence Boulevard, making the expressway feel more like a major highway. No more turning from Independence to Ashmore Drive. It should also limit traffic to existing exits, along with a revamped E W.T. Harris/Village Lake intersection and a bridge at Sharon Forest.
Rail stations would become locations for more and better development, such as mixed-use development, pedestrian-friendly shopping, and higher density residential space.
In summary, current plans to improve Independence Boulevard and a future light-rail system would dramatically improve transportation and accessibility in the corridor. It would allow for higher density development, and make the corridor more friendly to pedestrians. Residents would be less reliant on their vehicles to get around. It would become the biggest project for our area in the last 50 years.
What are the next steps?
As you may have heard, the Silver Line still needs funding. Federal funding isn’t available until projects are much further through the process, so this is no different or far behind other transportation initiatives. The hope is CATS can soon start an environmental impact study, which has been described as “lengthy.” They have begun working with rezoning to secure space for the rail system. According to prior coverage of the Silver Line, the project would cost at least $1 billion. There is still plenty of work to be done before anyone breaks ground on the rail system, but there appears to be a sizable push to get this project progressing. The light-rail is still listed as 15 to 20 years until implementation, but we are hopeful an emphasis on transportation speeds up this plan.
For more information, and to stay on top of the Silver Line, visit and bookmark the CATS page for the rail system: http://charlottenc.gov/cats/transit-planning/Pages/silver-line.aspx
MoRA needs YOUR help! VOLUNTEER with us on important community projects. Can’t volunteer? DONATE to help make our public art dream a reality. Even a $20 tax-deductible donation will help give the neighborhood a beautiful, defining sculpture that residents can be proud of.