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Crossrails Snapshot: The Team in Charlotte

By: Yorgo Douramacos

Half the team has spent the hours since sunrise stalking and documenting the repetitive yet dynamic pattern of arrival and departure along Charlotte, North Carolina’s nine mile Blue Line electric rail. Bisecting the city North to South, it seems to have been embraced as both convenience and amenity by the city’s residents.

The whole crew of eight convenes and compares goals and achievements for the day so far and the day going forward. A GoPro on the front of bike share bikes, time lapse of a city moving at a an expanding pace, lunch, set up, train ride, meet up and “What’d you get?” “What’s next?”

It’s only 2pm and it feels too late for some things, too early for others.

“My interview’s tomorrow, I wanna scout the site.”

“Did you bring the release forms?”

“Where’s Kathie?”

She’s crouched low to the ground with a black duvatyne shroud over her head so she can compose her shot without glare.

To us, trying to capture both the novelty and the symbolic weight of mass rail transit, its material existence, Charlotte’s Blue Line is an uncontainable quarry. No matter how many times we catch it, ride it, photograph and record it, it goes further on its way, continues and returns. If only we could close the trap and pack it in our luggage to be released and live back home the way it does here.

After the sun’s gone down and we reluctantly call it a day the team of eight sits around a low lit dinner table at “Mert’s Heart and Soul” restaurant. Working tensions are starting to arise but around good food those things matter less. The cornbread comes out in small loaves, one per person. Not the mealy and dense crumb-loaf often called “cornbread,” these are light and sweet and they erupt with fragrant steam when broken. We eat noisily, acclaiming the food around full mouths.

“Does anyone want the rest of my cornbread?” Jeremy asks.

-silence-

“It’s good, I just can’t finish it.”

“Everyone.” I say. “Literally everyone wants the rest of your cornbread.”

We’ll be returning the next night to interview the restaurant’s owner, a rail enthusiast and long time Blue Line advocate. We are glad to have an interview to structure the next day around because aimlessness can really exacerbate fatigue.

The Indiana Crossrails crew in Charlotte: eight people over five days trying to pin down a city’s innovation and personality that put it a long stride ahead of our own area in terms of transit and investment in its own mobility.

“How was the trip?”

“Good. We got a lot of good material.”

-silence-

“I wish you could’ve tasted the cornbread.”