Gastonia Mayor Walker Reid and Lowell Mayor Sandy Railey met with officials in the offices of Representative Patrick McHenry and Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis last week in Washington, DC, to seek support for a $25 million transportation grant that would help build the Lineberger Connector. The proposed road network would improve access to a 450-acre tract of land along I-85 that straddles the boundary between Gastonia and Lowell. The land is considered an ideal site for mixed-use development that has the potential of generating $200 million in tax base and attracting development creating thousands of jobs.
Mayors Reid and Railey also met with U.S. Department of Transportation officials to discuss the two cities’ joint application for the $25 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant that could help finance the project. The TIGER grant is a highly competitive federal program for funds to assist municipalities and states with transportation projects that, according to the USDOT, “will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region.”
The USDOT announced last September that $500 million in TIGER grants would be available through September 2020. Already, applications for billions of dollars of funding have been submitted from across the country.
Mayor Reid said the Lineberger Connector project is an excellent fit with the criteria for TIGER funding. “Developing that 450-acre tract of land with mixed-use development that could create thousands of jobs would make a huge economic impact, not only on Gastonia and Lowell, but also on the county and region,” he said. “But it probably won’t happen without the assistance of some major funding like a TIGER grant.”
Mayor Railey added that building the Lineberger Connector, which would include a new bridge over I-85, is the key to attracting development on the property. “Providing more access to the land will make it a prime piece of property for major commercial and residential development,” she said. “This project would be transformational for the City of Lowell. It would not only create jobs, but it also would attract new residents and increase the tax base,” she said.
In addition, both mayors pointed out that the project can help reduce congestion on I-85 which would assist with improved air quality in the area.
The Lineberger Connector project is estimated to cost $57 million. The TIGER grant would provide $25 million with the balance for the project funded through state and private sources.