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Officials Mark Charlotte Light Rail Groundbreaking

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(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff joined area leaders Thursday in a groundbreaking ceremony for the extension of Charlotte’s light rail.

Rogoff said the extension will give commuters an alternative to sitting in traffic on Interstate 85 and U.S. Highway 29.

The $1.1 billion project will connect the city’s downtown to the UNC-Charlotte campus, adding 11 new stations. Four stations will have park-and-ride lots. Federal funds will account for more than half of the money for the 9.2-mile expansion, which is scheduled to open in 2017.

The $462 million Lynx Blue Line opened in 2007. Running 9.6 miles between downtown Charlotte and Interstate 485, the line averages about 15,000 passenger trips on a typical weekday. The new route will add thousands of riders.

“The Blue Line extension is an important step in providing the world-class transportation system that Charlotte deserves,” Rogoff said.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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