Charlotte's South Corridor

Charlotte, North Carolina

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)


The City of Charlotte needed better pedestrian access to the transit system.


The City invested $371 million in a South Corridor Light Rail, and $19.7 million in an historic trolley restoration project. A robust pedestrian network was needed for both of these new transit systems to be effective. The South Corridor Light Rail project was the first of five corridors planned for expansion of light rail and associated pedestrian-related amenities.


The City Council adopted the Transit Station Area Planning Principles in 2001 to ensure proper design and connections for the new transit corridor. The principles included a heavy pedestrian emphasis were aimed at increasing development density within easy walking distance (1/2 mile) of the 15 transit stations. Development will be required to provide parking at the rear or sides of buildings, construct buildings at the sidewalk line, and orient their access for pedestrian use. Additionally, the principles called for higher density residential development with first floor commercial uses oriented to the front of the building.

Charlotte voters approved a $100 million bond referendum in 2001. $20 million of the funds were designated for South Corridor Transit infrastructure, and an additional $10 million were dedicated to citywide sidewalk construction. With the funds realized, the city staff set to work on more detailed plans. Through a charrette brainstorming process including city staff and hired consultants, a pedestrian "quality of service" methodology was developed to evaluate the "walkability" of nearby neighborhoods and surrounding land uses. As a result of this comprehensive evaluation, the detailed vision featured pedestrian facilities like wide sidewalks, shade tree planting, pedestrian-scale lighting, and midblock crosswalks.

The Vintage Trolley project runs alongside the northernmost 3 miles of the light rail line and incorporates a pedestrian path extending the entire length. Benches, lighting and landscaping were also installed, in addition to a pedestrian bridge to allow the trolley to connect with the Charlotte Convention Center.

Sponsors for the project included the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte Metropolitan Transit Commission (CATS), the Charlotte Trolley, Inc., and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission. While the initial efforts began in 1998, the line's opening was recently postponed from 2006 to 2013.


The materials developed can all be applied to future projects and will serve as ongoing tools to provide for pedestrian needs. These materials include the Planning Principles, the Pedestrian Quality of Service assessment, and a Transportation Adequacy evaluation for development siting. In addition, significant pedestrian facilities were built at 7 of the 15 transit stops. The infrastructure investment has also spurred economic development. As of 2003, 20 pedestrian or transit oriented developments had already begun, the tax value of properties jumped from $20.2 million to $393.2 million, and tax revenue increased from $240,650 to $4,706,000.


Jim Humphrey, PE, Director
Charlotte Department of Transportation
600 E. Fourth Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 336-3883

Images Source

Institute of Transportation Engineers Pedestrian Project Award Application. Charlotte Department of Transportation.

Filed in: Community Problems and Solutions, Plans and Policies, Transit, Case Studies

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