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Orange and Durham Counties and the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization Agree to an Accelerated Transit Plan Schedule to Meet a New Federal Deadline for their Light Rail Transit Project

In a joint meeting Friday, leadership and staff from Orange and Durham counties agreed to an accelerated schedule to update county transit plans and the cost-sharing agreement for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project by the end of April, to meet a new Federal Transit Administration (FTA) deadline.

On Feb. 16, the FTA requested additional documentation from Durham and Orange counties, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC), and GoTriangle to be delivered by April 30, 2017, acknowledging the updated cost estimate and funding strategy for the two-county light rail project and to confirm that at least 15 percent of the total project cost (or 30 percent of non-federal funding), will come from dedicated local transit funds.

“Through our strong partnership with Durham County, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and GoTriangle, we will work together to meet the federal deadline, deliver the best possible transit options for our residents, and secure this significant federal investment for effective, efficient, and visionary public transit services throughout Orange County,” said Orange County Commissioner Chair Mark Dorosin.

Durham County Commissioner Chair Wendy Jacobs said, “The light rail project and the updated transit plans are vital to the future of our region and support greater opportunities for our residents and visitors. We look forward to working with all of our partners to meet the requirements needed to secure a more than one-billion-dollar investment in our two counties.”

In the joint meeting that included the board chairs, county managers and staff from both counties, municipal leaders, as well as GoTriangle and DCHC staff, the group agreed to work together to revise the draft Bus and Rail Investment Plans and release them for a robust public comment period at the beginning of April. The new schedule also includes additional presentations and discussions at county meetings and final consideration of updated transit plans by Durham and Orange counties, DCHC and the GoTriangle Board of Trustees by April 28.

Orange County, Durham County, DCHC and GoTriangle will provide details about times and locations for public meetings and public hearings as soon as they are finalized.

Project Background

The Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project is a 17.7-mile line, with 18 stations, from UNC Hospitals to North Carolina Central University. The light rail project will better connect people to jobs, education and healthcare and provide a more predictable, congestion-free trip for commuters. The line will serve three of the top 10 employers in the state, directly connect to three major universities, and provide direct access to UNC Hospitals, Duke Hospitals, the Durham VA Medical Center and employers, services, and entertainment in downtown Durham. New development around the planned light rail stations is projected to create tens of thousands of new jobs and add $175 million annually in state and local tax revenue.