December 1, 2008
LYNX Blue Line Wins FHWA Award
The Charlotte Area Transit System received the Federal Highway Administration’s Award of Excellence for the LYNX Blue Line light rail station at I-485 and South Boulevard. The award recognizes the superior efforts and achievements of public agencies and private organizations in designing highway facilities that enhance safety and mobility while being sensitive to the human and natural environment and contributing to a more pleasing transportation experience. The station earned top honors in the Intermodal Transportation Facilities category for its 1,100-space parking deck that houses a playfield on the roof.
“More than 100 entries were submitted this year and CATS is honored to receive the Award of Excellence for our LYNX Blue Line station,” said CATS Chief Executive Officer Keith Parker. “The I-485/South Boulevard station is an outstanding example of what can be done when designers use their creativity to find context sensitive solutions to move traffic along a facility that is aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly, as well as safe and efficient.”
The problem: the light rail alignment had limited access for potential end-of-the-line stations that made site selection difficult and costly, plus Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools owned an unusable remnant of land adjacent to Sterling Elementary School. CATS’ win-win solution: a joint-use facility on the site. CATS would construct a parking deck that would be capped by a playfield on the deck’s rooftop for the school’s students. This design blended the deck into the environment, and eased congestion by taking vehicles off area interstates.
“By working together with CMS and the Sterling community, we were able to develop an unusable piece of land and avoid any residential impacts to the neighborhood,” said Parker. “In the process, CATS also saved over $5 million dollars in land costs along the LYNX Blue Line by not having to purchase additional right-of-way and an alternative parking site.”