Mary Newsom

Mary Newsom is an associate editor at the Charlotte Observer where she writes a weekly op-ed column. Her blog for the Observer, The Naked City,, focuses on growth, development, and transportation. She spent 2007-08 studying at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow. Follow her on Twitter @marynewsom.

Ditching the car in NASCAR country

Charlotte does light rail right

Charlotte is car-loving NASCAR country, a vast suburbia of cul-de-sacs and strip malls. Yet its new light rail line is a national model for success, outstripping ridership projections and inspiring millions of dollars in high-density development. How did sensible transportation planning come to sprawlburbia? Not by appealing for “sustainability,” that’s for sure. In the end, the winning pitch that sold voters on light rail was none other than Charlotte’s love of growth. The development it lured — several thousand condos and apartments, dozens of new restaurants and stores, and roughly half a billion dollars in private investment — showed skeptics …

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