See the new light rail facility today

The South Boulevard Light Rail Facility will open today with fanfare from local officials eager to show off the building and the LYNX Blue line rail cars to the public.

Light rail has come under attack recently by critics who say it's unnecessary and overpriced. They want to repeal a half-cent sales tax dedicated to mass transit, and have collected enough signatures to put the matter to voters on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The Charlotte Area Transit System, meanwhile, has been working to open the $462.7 million South Corridor line early to persuade voters to keep paying the tax. The original cost estimate for the line was $227 million in 1998.

CATS will celebrate the grand opening of its 92,000-square-foot facility from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Jennifer Roberts, chairman of the Mecklenburg County commissioners, and Charlotte City Council member Patsy Kinsey, District 1, will join CATS chief officer Ron Tober to open facility.

"We want the community to come out and see the LYNX light rail vehicles, walk through the cars and learn how they operate," Tober said in a statement. "Visitors will also get to see how the trains are maintained and other operational features at this new site."

Tober, who spoke recently at District 2 and District 4 town hall meetings, said light rail has benefits for the community besides transportation: It has already generated $1 billion in investment along the South Corridor.

The next leg of light rail the city plans to build is the Northeast Corridor, an extension of the Blue line to University City that already has an estimated cost of $740.5 million.

• What: Opening of the South Boulevard Light Rail Facility

• When: 10 a.m. to noon, today

• Where: South Tryon Bus Facility, 3145 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, to catch a shuttle to the light rail facility

• Details: www.ridetransit.org