The wheels are in motion for the greater Charlotte region to implement a comprehensive transportation system. The project partners, Centralina Regional Council and the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC), have voted to officially endorse the CONNECT Beyond regional mobility plan.
This initiative is a first-of-its-kind plan that serves as a blueprint for how to implement a robust, interconnected network combining high-capacity transit lines, enhanced bus service and other innovative mobility solutions. CONNECT Beyond will cover a diverse area, crossing the dashed lines that split the Charlotte region, including 12 counties, two states, four Metropolitan Planning Organizations, one Rural Planning Organization and two state Departments of Transportation.
“Over the past two decades, our region has experienced unprecedented growth and remained resilient through turbulent cycles. Access to safe, reliable, affordable and well-connected public transportation is critical so that everyone can benefit from this economic prosperity,” said Geraldine Gardner, executive director of Centralina Regional Council.
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Cabarrus County is part of the plan’s 12-county region, which consists of Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties in North Carolina and the urbanized areas of Lancaster and York counties in South Carolina.
“Time is our most incredible asset that each and every one of us have. And augmenting times becomes a determining factor in which mode of transportation we will choose as we are moving throughout the region,” said John Lewis, chief executive officer of Charlotte Area Transit System. “This is an issue of competitiveness. Being able to give individuals back the most amount of time in their commute and allows them more time pursuing business ventures, spending time with family and enhancing quality of life. And much of that is tied to our transportation system and our ability to connect.”
CONNECT Beyond includes more than 150 recommendations that fit into the following five categories, known as Mobility Moves: Creating Mobility-Friendly Places, Expanding Mobility Choices, Strengthening Rural to Urban Connections, Building a Better Bus Network and Investing in Strategic Mobility Corridors.
Some of the many ways the plan would impact Cabarrus County include: focusing growth along high-capacity transit corridors such as Highways 73 and 49; participating in commuter programs for residents who travel for education and jobs; and giving residents more access to medical facilities in surrounding counties and the ability to use human services transportation for underserved communities for non-medical trips. For more county information about CONNECT Beyond, visit https://centralina.org/regional-collaboration/regional-transit/ and for more detailed plan information, visit https://www.connect-beyond.com/.
The next steps will entail Centralina and MTC working with transportation planning organizations, counties and municipalities within the project area to educate residents, facilitate cross-county coordination and secure resources to support early implementation priorities.
Added Gardner, “We are excited to begin rolling out the plan and working with local entities in the region to customize implementation and ensure mobility solutions for everyone. CONNECT Beyond is our north star in meeting the needs of our growing region.”