North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff have joined area leaders in a groundbreaking ceremony for the extension of Charlotte's light rail.

Rogoff said Thursday the extension will give commuters an alternative to sitting in traffic on Interstate 85 and U.S. Highway 29.

The $1.1 billion project will connect the city's downtown to the UNC-Charlotte campus, adding 11 new stations. Four stations will have park-and-ride lots. Federal funds will account for more than half of the money for the 9.2-mile expansion, which is scheduled to open in 2017.

The $462 million Lynx Blue Line opened in 2007. Running 9.6 miles between downtown Charlotte and Interstate 485, the line averages about 15,000 passenger trips on a typical weekday. The new route will add thousands of riders.