The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) in the US has opened its passenger service on the LYNX Blue Line Extension (BLE).

The 9.3 mile-long extension of the LYNX Blue Line nearly doubles the total length of the initial 9.6-mile light rail line that runs between 7th Street Station in Uptown and the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Charlotte campus.

Engineering group STV was responsible for carrying out planning of the final alignment of the extension, as well as providing all environmental assessments necessary to procure regulatory approvals for the $1.16bn project.

“It will be extremely gratifying to see how it will benefit the quality of life for those who live in the connecting neighbourhoods.”

It also designed all 11 stations and the 13 bridges on the route, in addition to supervising the design of three parking garages and one surface lot that will offer 3,000 new parking spaces.

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STV senior vice-president Martin Boyle said: “This project has been more than a decade in the making and has involved so many people that have been dedicated to getting to this moment.

“It is extremely satisfying to see this through to completion and it will be even more gratifying to see how it will benefit the quality of life for those who live in the connecting neighbourhoods and the completion of the many opportunities for economic development along the alignment, which are already underway.”

Passengers will be able to cover the length of the LYNX Blue Line extension in nearly 25 minutes, from the UNC Charlotte campus to Center City passing through University City, Newell, NoDa and Optimist Park along much of North Tryon Street and North Davidson Street.

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The southern corridor of the LYNX Blue Line was launched in 2007 with 15 stations and seven parking facilities.