Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project Gets Federal Go Ahead

Molly De Marco's picture

The news much awaited by transit supporters in Orange and Durham Counties finally came yesterday when the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) announced approval of Triangle Transit's request to enter Project Dvelopment phase on the 17-mile Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project. More details can be found in this press release:

DURHAM-ORANGE LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT PROJECT
GETS FEDERAL GO AHEAD FOR PROJECT DEVELOPMENT
 
Research Triangle Park, NC (2-25-14) – The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced today that Triangle Transit’s request to enter Project Development on the 17-mile Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project has been approved. 
 
“We are pleased with FTA’s decision,” said Fred Day IV, Chair of the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees.  “This represents an important milestone in the course of this project.”
 
Triangle Transit General Manager David King said, “We can now proceed to complete the environmental process, advance our engineering and make final alignment decisions.  We will also use this time to strengthen our financial plan and work with our municipal and university partners on land use and housing issues around stations.  We appreciate FTA’s vote of confidence in our work on this project.”
 
Triangle Transit asked the FTA for entry into the New Starts program in December 2013.  A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 will be completed by January 2016.
 
The light rail line would run from Chapel Hill to East Durham with proposed stops as UNC Hospitals and UNC, Mason Farm Road, Friday Center, Hillmont, Leigh Village, Patterson Place, South Square, Duke University, Duke University Medical Center, the VA Medical Center, downtown Durham and Alston Avenue/NC Central University.
 
The Project Development phase is scheduled to take two years. Project Development is followed by a three year phase called engineering.   Construction would follow the engineering phase and would likely take four to five years before light rail service could begin.  More information is available at ourtransitfuture.com.
 
The project cost is estimated at $1.34 billion dollars (in 2012 dollars).  Voters in Durham and Orange counties have approved a one-half cent sales tax to fund the local share of the rail project along with new and expanded bus service. 

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4 Comments

James Coley's picture

How can we do better preventing sprawl?

Despite good efforts over many years, particularly in terms of supporting transit and other aspects of transportation reform, Chapel Hill and Durham have bad news about our attempts to limit sprawl.In its new report, Smart Growth America lists Durham/Chapel Hill as one of the most sprawling medium metro areas (see table 7 on page 11 of the report).The report is available here.What should we be doing better?James Coley

ldhintz's picture

Sprawl

It is hard to see what Chapel Hill can do better since so much of the index depends on county and state rules and regulations. Durham/ Chapel Hill are placed in the 500000 to 1000000 metro population so Chapel Hill would be only 10-20% of the population. No North Carolina area does well. 100 is average. Of the NC regions Raleigh is least worse at 84 (rank 155), Wilmington and Asheville are 77 and 76, then Durham/Chapel Hill at 74, Charlotte 71, Greensboro and Winson Salem both at 63 and Hickory/Morgantown last in the nation at 25. If you look at the county data Orange and Durham are average (100/106) while Chatham is low at 65 and Wake higher at 116.