City lacks funds to finish Cross Charlotte Trail project

Who doesn't like to bike or have a nice walk along the greenway? We have a lot of trails across Charlotte, but they're not connected. The City of Charlotte decided to change that.

In 2012, the City came up with the idea to create a 26-mile-long trail connecting Ballantyne to University City. Everything seemed to be fine and good with the project until Monday during a city council strategy session.

"Are we saying in plain English that we don't have enough money to finish the Cross Charlotte Trail?" asked Councilman Braxton Winston.

"That's right. $38 million does not build all 26 miles of Cross Charlotte Trail," said Joe Frey with Engineering and Property Management.

The City doesn't have enough money. In fact, city staff told council we're $77.7 million dollars short.

"I have to say I'm flabbergasted by these numbers. We're one-third of our way through paying for this and my recollection of earlier descriptions of the bond issuance of the trail showed the entire trail and said here's a 30 something million-dollar number," said Councilman Ed Driggs.

How did we get here? 

"There was a master planning study that was done. It was around that time that the teams working on cross charlotte trail began to understand this project couldn't be completed with the 38 that was funded," said Frey.

What he's saying is that city staff knew there was a problem back in 2016. How do we move forward from here?

"There's only three basic solutions we can explore. Back away from the entire project. I don't think anyone has the appetite to back away from a project we've spent 20-30 million dollars in. The other option is to raise the funds for the 77 million that's needed. I don't think there's appetite for that also," said Councilman Tariq Bokhari.

The third option, he says, is a compromise somewhere in between.

Charlotte City Council was set to vote this upcoming Monday, January 14th, on a portion of the trail for connectivity in the Ballantyne area. Now, several council members say we need to go back to the drawing board to determine how to move forward with the entire project as a whole.

You can find the PowerPoint city staff presented to council here. You can watch the city’s Facebook live of Monday’s strategy session here.