Charlotte, N.C. (WJZY) --
Charlotte's new city streetcar is now open to the public.
"The first stage of the CityLYNX Gold Line is finally open for business," said Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter.
Charlotte leaders and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx gathered under the transit center dome Tuesday to announce the debut of the new streetcar.
Their top priority: revitalize the east and west side of Charlotte.
"All along the east and west portions of the line, they now know what to expect, that there will be permanent fixed transit service that will serve the entire community, so they're willing to put dollars at risk into investment. We're already starting to see that happen," said Mayor Clodfelter.
The mile and a half long line runs from the transit center on Trade Street to Novant hospital on Hawthorne.
Although construction started a year and a half ago, the trolley’s path is actually a lot older than that.
"The alignment that we're on is actually one of original alignments that the trolleys ran on in the 1930's. This section was built in the early 1900's. A trolley has been on these streets for a long time," said Tonia Wimberly with the City of Charlotte.
The streetcars themselves are replicas of the original trolleys. History is also brought back through the art at each trolley stop.
"Basically it's a collection executed in glass that tells a story about things that took place at that shelter. There's a lot of historic material and contemporary material also. The transportation side has the first woman bus driver. First African American woman bus driver in Charlotte," said Nancy O’Neal, who created the artwork.
The trolley is returning 77 years after they were taken off the road. Transportation officials say this first phase of the gold line is free of charge...so happy riding!
This phase one of the gold line cost an estimated 37 million dollars. Phase two is expected to begin construction late next year. Charlotte leaders say it's fully funded on the side of the city. As far as federal funding, it's in the proposed federal transportation budget.