The General Assembly amended budget language that would have made it nearly impossible for Durham and Orange counties’ light-rail project to secure the $1.2 billion federal investment needed to build the project.

According to the technical correction, the light-rail project would be eligible for a maximum of $190 million provided that all other nonfederal funds for the project are committed by April 30, 2019, and that all federal funds are committed no later than Nov. 30, 2019. It also states that no state funding may be expended for a light-rail project until a written agreement is provided to the North Carolina Department of Transportation establishing that all nonstate funding necessary to construct the project has been committed.

In the coming weeks, we will be working closely with Durham and Orange counties to assess exactly what the new language means for their project.

GoTriangle plans to submit the final application for federal funding by the end of 2018, expecting to receive approval by September 2019 through a Full Funding Grant Agreement. Construction of the light-rail project would begin in 2020, and by 2027 the line would be open and connecting three major universities and medical centers, offering access and opportunity to more job-seekers and employers and creating tens of thousands of jobs.

The funding model continues to anticipate a little more than $1.2 billion, or 50 percent of the total project cost, to come from the Federal Transit Administration through the New Starts grant program. With up to $190 million now eligible from the state, the remaining funds would come from local and private sources including the voter-approved transit-dedicated investment in Durham and Orange counties.

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