CATS said it hasn’t yet started its own testing on the Lynx Blue Line Extension, but the transit system said the $1.1 billion light-rail extension will open in March.
The extension was supposed to open in August in time for the start of the school year at UNC Charlotte. But construction delays pushed that back to March – a new deadline that CATS said it will meet.
The main contractor, Balfour Beatty Rail, is still working on the project. But CATS chief executive John Lewis said Monday he expects the contractor to hand over the project to the transit system.
“Then we can put a pinpoint time on the opening,” he said.
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CATS had previously said it would need five months to test the line after the contractor finished its work. That would put the opening in mid-April.
But CATS said Monday the federal government does not have a requirement in weeks or months for testing, and that the transit system can still open the train to the public in March.
Lewis said CATS will soon begin testing the rail line as if it were running an actual service schedule. So far, he said, all systems have performed well, including the coordination between gates that close roads as trains pass. In January, CATS plans a “full-scale training exercise,” which simulates a crisis or disaster.
On Oct. 29, CATS tested the line at full-speed.
“All of the work on the rail line has been completed,” Lewis said. “(The contractor) is working on finishing touches, artwork, station canopies and other minor details.”
CATS released a new video Monday that shows a train operating along the length of the 9.3-mile line.
Construction has closed some roads that will be re-opening over the next several months.
In NoDa, 36th Street at the Norfolk Southern rail crossing will not open until June. The 36th Street rail station will open when the entire line opens in March, however.
Craighead Road has been closed between North Davidson Street and Raleigh Street. It’s scheduled to re-open in December. The N.C. Department of Transportation is building the East Sugar Creek Road bridge over the rail lines, but it won’t open until February 2019.