Gold Line trams are currently being tested in downtown Charlotte
The Gold Line will run from Johnson C. Smith University on the west side of Charlotte, through Uptown and Elizabeth, and will end just above the Hawthorne Lane Bridge.
CHARLOTTE, NC – It took years, but now you’ll see a modern streetcar being tested at night in downtown Charlotte.
Phase two of the Gold Line could be open to the public as early as late April or early May, according to CATS Gold Line project manager David McDonald.
Over the next few weeks, if not months, teams will test one of the six trams as part of the procedure before opening the road to the public.
âIt’s exciting! It’s great to get out of the vehicle and, you know, make sure everything is working,â McDonald said.
The CityLYNX Gold Line is currently undergoing integrated systems testing, where teams will measure and certify platform clearances, adjust overhead cables to which trams connect, and ensure all electrical systems are functioning properly.
This type of test will continue intermittently for several weeks, according to CATS, only overnight.
Then, in the spring, there will be pre-income testing. This will simulate commercial service during normal operating hours, allowing for training of system and tram operators, according to CATS.
âWe did a lot of work to prepare the project,â McDonald added.
The four mile Gold Line will run from Johnson C. Smith University through the upscale neighborhoods to Elizabeth and Plaza Midwood.
Currently, only the 2.5 mile stretch from downtown through the Spectrum Center to Plaza Midwood will be tested. Last-minute construction still needs to be completed before the western part of the track is tested, McDonald said.
Once opened, the four-mile stretch will include 11 additional stops with upgraded boarding platforms.
Each tram will be able to accommodate 56 passengers and 199 standing passengers, in a non-pandemic world.
For many along the trails it has been a long time coming.
âBusiness has stalled year over year,â said Chris Mullis, general manager of Hawthorne’s New York Pizza and Bar in Elizabeth.
For four years he had to deal with a disruption in building a porch outside his business. He lost clients throughout the project and the COVID-19 pandemic was an insult to injury.
âWe’re just happy to have reopened the street and all the mess cleaned up,â Mullis said.
It is not sure that this will bring more and more new customers to his restaurant once the trams open to the public. He said it would take years to recover from the losses suffered by his restaurant.
Across the city of the historic West End, business has also been hit.
âIt’s been a roller coaster ride,â hairstylist David Powell, Jr. told No Grease Mosaic Village on West Trade Street.
He hopes the Gold Line will soon attract new customers to his barbershop after suffering a loss of business due to COVID-19 from building zones.
âPeople on their lunch break will be able to leave the car parked where it is, hop on the streetcar, come to Mosaic Village, have exceptional service and be able to come back in time to work the rest of the day,â he hoped. .
This is phase two of the project which runs east to west between Sunnyside Avenue and French Street.
However, the City of Charlotte and CATS want there to be a phase three. If built, the entire Gold Line would stretch 10 miles from the Rosa Parks Place transit hub beyond LaSalle Street west of Charlotte to Uptown and east, ending at the Eastland transit center.
Additional funds would be needed for phase three.
The second phase cost $ 150 million which was divided between the city of Charlotte and the federal government.