Because we have received numerous media inquiries this week about this topic we want to share the following:

GoTriangle received a letter from Duke University President Richard Brodhead on Friday, December 2nd reaffirming the University and Duke University Health System's continued support for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project.

The letter states that Duke looks forward to continued discussion with GoTriangle about the alignment of the light rail line near Duke Hospital.

Dr. Brodhead’s letter closes saying, “We (Duke University and Duke University Health System) will encourage Orange County and Durham County to join us in expressing support for the project.”

On Tuesday November 29, members of the Durham County Commissioners and Durham City Council, at a joint meeting, voted unanimously to ask their respective full board and council to provide non-binding letters of intent to work with GoTriangle and other community partners to identify funds needed to complete the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (D-O LRT) Project.

Orange County Commissioners are expected to vote on a non-binding letter of intent on Monday, December 5.

The letters would signal to the Federal Transit Administration that Durham and Orange Counties still want to build their light-rail project, that the counties understand that their local share will be greater than originally anticipated because of the new state light rail funding cap established in 2016, and that both counties are committed to helping identify the resources to fill the remaining funding. The counties are not being asked to invest any additional funds for the project at this time.

GoTriangle helped organize a Funding and Community Collaborative made up of leaders from local universities, health care institutions, government, and the private sector. The Collaborative is working to help secure additional funds for the project through right-of-way donations from public and private partners and seeking funds from private entities, endowments, and foundations. These funds and additional project savings will be incorporated into the project budget before the counties invest any additional money for the project.

Project Funding Gap

In 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly capped available state funding for light rail transit at 10% of a project’s cost, as opposed to the 25% that the legislature previously awarded to two light rail projects in Charlotte. With 10% state funding, using additional available funds from the dedicated transit revenue approved in 2012, extending the construction schedule to open light rail in 2028 instead of 2026, and making changes in proposed financing, the project currently faces a total funding gap of approximately $250 million.

In 2011 and 2012, voters and community leaders in Durham and Orange counties approved a half-cent sales tax and increased vehicle registration fees to support transit initiatives, including the D-O LRT Project. At the time of these votes, light rail projects in North Carolina were funded with 50% federal participation, 25% state funds, and a 25% local share.

The FTA is still expected to invest 50% in federal funds in Durham and Orange counties’ light rail transit project, contingent on the remaining 50% coming from state, local or other funding sources. The two counties will review and approve updated county transit plans with updated planned revenue assumptions in April 2017. By June of 2018, Durham and Orange counties would have to formally decide whether to commit any additional local funds required to complete their light rail project or decide not to proceed.

About the Project

The D-O LRT Project is vital transportation infrastructure that will support 23,000 passenger trips per day by 2040 along the 17-mile alignment; provide an alternative to sitting in traffic; connect to local and regional bus service, which enhances mobility for more people, including those without access to a car; complement local plans to focus compact development; manage and channel future growth at station areas; and support and promote economic development.

For more information contact MIke Charbonneau at 919-608-8348 or Brad Schulz at 919-602-2501.

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