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Silver Line Light Rail Update and MoRA Area Stations

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?

Silver Line Projected Path

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.

MoRA impact: Charlotte city bonds on this year’s election ballot

At the end of the very last page general election ballot are three referenda that asks voters for approval of bonds worth $218.44 million.  Approval of these bonds will not result in additional taxes. The following Transportation Bond items, totaling $17.7m, fall within or near the MoRA area:

  • Idlewild/Rama/Monroe intersection improvements. (You’ll find the presentation slides from MoRA’s October 12 “Government Comes to You” workshop here)
  • Monroe Road streetscape (from Briar Creek to N. Sharon Amity Rds)
  • Sidewalk and bikeway improvements
  • Land acquisition and street connections along the Monroe Road side of Independence Boulevard corridor

eastblvdscottaveMonroe Road is a crucial commuter corridor, connecting Matthews and Uptown, and the MoRA area is an important employment sector. The Idlewild/Rama/Monroe is an important intersection, with two schools (McClintock Middle and East Mecklenburg High) and the transit that accompanies them within yards.

Interested in seeing city projects happening near you?  Click on the yellow dots on this map (takes a few seconds to load) and see a description of planned work:  http://charlottenc.gov/Projects/Pages/Map.aspx

These bonds also support improvements to other parts of Charlotte, including the Cross Charlotte Multi-Use Trail, a 26-mile trail that will connect the county’s system of greenways.  The Neighborhood Improvement bonds will connect streets, sidewalks, trails and bike lanes to enhance community assets charlotte1and to link neighborhoods with schools, parks, and transit.  Housing bonds leverage public-private investment dollars to provide affordable housing options for low- and moderate-income households in the Charlotte area.

All of our City Council representatives support these bonds.

For more information on these bonds, go to www.voteyesforbonds.com.

Reshaping MoRA’s Future – Weigh In!

DSC_0125WEIGH IN ON THE FUTURE OF MORA AT OUR SECOND ANNUAL GOVERNMENT OPEN HOUSE

Meet your reps at MoRA’s Second Annual Government Open House – Wednesday, October 12 from 5:30-6:30 at East Mecklenburg High School’s media center; immediately afterwards, from 6:30 – 7:30, learn about key projects that can reshape MoRA’s land use and transportation future.

Development and revitalization doesn’t happen overnight. It occurs months and years ahead of time. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to meet and discuss with countless members of the local government the changes and future of our cherished area. They will cover updates on construction, development, traffic, land use, and the future of the Monroe Road corridor.

Government Open House from 5:30 to 6:30

  • Construction update on Independence Boulevard
  • The latest on the Silver Line
  • MoRA items in November’s bond package
  • Learn about new McAlpine Greenway events
  • Meet your community’s police officers
  • Find out about new happenings at the Independence Regional Library
  • Updates from Charlotte’s Economic Development department
  • Charlotte’s lead paint abatement initiative
  • Hear the latest from the Public Information Office

Land use development changes from 6:30 to 7:00

Planning wants to update and modernize Charlotte’s zoning and development process to meet the changing needs of a rapidly growing city. More information is available on the Planning Department’s website. Changes may include:

  • New neighborhood requirements
  • Mix of commercial and residential areas
  • Sidewalk placements

Learning what is under consideration will give MoRA stakeholders an edge on harnessing any new code to bring desired area improvements.

Development of Monroe Road intersections from 7:00 to 7:30

The City’s Idlewild/Rama/Monroe Intersection (IRMI) project team will introduce this long-range project at MoRA’s Oct. 12 Workshop. The team will identify and plan for future improvements at these intersections, such as:

  • The future of this part of Monroe road
  • Improve mobility and accessibility at these intersections
  • Support the right types of private development at these sites
  • Learn how to mix pedestrian, bicyclist, public transit, and motorist traffic

Currently, the team is beginning the planning stage. That makes your input crucially important. Weigh in while changes can be considered. More information can be found on charlottefuture.com.

Visit the media center at East Mecklenburg High School between 5:30 and 6:30 on Oct. 12 to meet with representatives of over 14 state and local government agencies. Don’t miss this chance to be involved with the biggest future changes for southeast Charlotte.

 

Independence Trail in the Works to Make MoRA More Pedestrian and Bike-Friendly

As anyone who has tried it can attest, sometimes getting around the MoRA area without a car can be a challenge. There are some exciting projects on the horizon for the MoRA area aimed at making walking and biking in the area safer and more fun. One of these projects is the proposed Independence Trail South.

The Independence Trail South is a part of City of Charlotte’s Independence Boulevard Area Plan, developed to encourage economic development along the Independence Boulevard corridor. The trail’s design and exact location is still yet to be determined, but it will probably be made up of a route through quiet neighborhood streets, connected by paved pathways/greenways and improved crossings of major WalkingPath1roads. The trail will probably run from around Marion Wallace Park to around the Chantilly Neighborhood Park, between Independence Boulevard and Monroe Road. It is designed to provide walkers, runners and cyclists with an alternative to these two busy roads, as well as to connect other major pedestrian and cycling networks and connect area neighborhoods to services, schools and retail.  To learn more about the Independence Trail, visit the City of Charlotte’s website.

The City of Charlotte has gathered a lot of community input over the past year, leading to the Independence Sidewalk and Bikeway project team’s recommendation for the Independence Trail. This input included two public meetings in June and October 2015, and participation from students from East Mecklenburg High School. Assuming the Community Investment Plan bond referendum passes in November, project planning will begin and the project will move forward as part of the 2016 bond cycle. MoRA will post information when it hears about opportunities for the public to provide input into the design of this exciting new project!

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 will make residents proud.