CATS LYNX Blue Line Extension Light Rail Project
Award of Merit

Owner: Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS)
Lead Design/Construction Support: STV
General Contractor: Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc.
Construction Manager: HNTB
Civil Engineer: Lane Construction
Structural Engineer: Balfour Beatty Rail
MEP Engineer: McKim & Creed Inc.
Architect: Neighboring Concept

This 9.3-mile-long extension of Charlotte’s existing LYNX light rail system’s Blue Line serves the city’s northeast section with a new terminus at the University of North Carolina’s Charlotte campus. A five-year planning period for the $1.2-billion project preceded the 2013 start of construction.

More than a dozen contractors—working via multiple contract segments—were involved in the project. The work included construction of an 822-ft-long bridge, a 340-ft-long tunnel, 13 bridges, more than 80 retaining walls, 11 new stations and three parking decks. Another challenge was the final alignment, which includes four miles running along shared railroad right-of-way, a section within a multilane highway’s median and the last half-mile on the UNC’s Charlotte campus. With the line located near some UNC research facilities, contractors monitored noise and vibration measures. Unforeseen issues with utility relocations delayed construction’s start by nine months, threatening the schedule. Lane Construction’s acceleration plan condensed 36 months of work into 21, enabling contractors to meet the original schedule.