$275M Spectrum Center upgrades include underground transit center

CHARLOTTE, NC (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — There are major changes coming to downtown centered around the home of the Hornets. Part of the $275 million plan for Spectrum Center upgrades includes an underground transit center.

Charlotte City leaders will decide on Plan A or Plan B for Spectrum Center upgrades.

“Plan A” would place the transit center in the basement of the new development above the current CTC. The idea of ​​the underground transit hub has some cyclists worried about safety.

“The flow and the way it works in Charlotte, it’s just easier to have it above ground,” pilot Deion Alexander said. “I’ve seen people get robbed at subway stations and things like that and it’s just not worth it.”

At a nearly three-hour economic development meeting originally scheduled for 90 minutes, Charlotte City Council and transportation leaders got their first taste of what the underground transportation facility could be. It includes retail and hotel spaces above the transit hub. The Hornets training facility would be part of the development. CATS CEO John Lewis says the current CTC was built in 1995 and has survived its use. He says this project could modernize CATS.

“I think it’s not something new in the transit industry,” Lewis said. “I think if you look nationally there are a lot of underground bus facilities and rail facilities that have worked very well.”

The light rail would remain above ground. If the council approves Plan A, it will include a temporary transit center for passengers while crews complete construction. Some council members expressed concerns ranging from safety to air quality.

“I think these environmental issues should be taken seriously,” Councilor Braxton Winston said. “I don’t think the suggestion that transit has done anything across the country is enough, especially when you put an equity lens on how transit has been developed.”

Transportation officials say this underground center would not be as deep as a subway.

“When you think of this underground facility, we don’t want you to think of it as a parking garage, think of it as an air terminal,” Lewis said.

A transportation consultant called the facility “unhealthy, discriminatory and a public safety nightmare,” Councilman Gregg Phipps said leaders should consider that prospect.

“It doesn’t give me much comfort to have a facility like that in the basement with other stuff on top of that,” Councilman Greg Phipps said.

Plan B would keep the transit facility above ground and place the Hornets’ training facility in that gravel parking lot across from the Federal Reserve Building. If you’d like to give your opinion on the project, city leaders are running a poll on the website.

Bonny J. Streater