Sticker Shock: Why Does the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project Suddenly Cost $3.3 Billion? | Triangulator | Indy Week
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Sticker Shock: Why Does the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project Suddenly Cost $3.3 Billion? 

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Illustration by Shan Stumpf

WHAT'S UP WITH THE APRIL 30 DEADLINE?


The FTA asked GoTriangle to submit updated cost estimates for the project and a cost-sharing agreement between Durham and Orange counties. It also requested transit plans (including light rail) for each county and proof of commitments for at least 30 percent of the project's nonfederal funding. GoTriangle is hoping to secure a New Starts grant from the FTA that would pay for 50 percent of the DOLRT.

Durham and Orange are currently renegotiating a 2012 cost-share agreement that had Durham paying about 77 percent of the local costs and Orange paying about 23 percent. Because more of the infrastructure will be in Durham, and because the current agreement doesn't allow Orange to maintain a positive cash flow, a new agreement—with Durham paying 82 percent and Orange paying 18 percent—is being considered.

Even if all goes smoothly, GoTriangle will cut it close. Final plans will be considered by Durham County commissioners on April 24, GoTriangle trustees on April 26, Orange County commissioners on April 27, and the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization on April 28.

If GoTriangle misses the April 30 deadline, the project could be delayed for at least a year. Even if the deadline is met, President Trump could still derail efforts to fund DOLRT. Under his 2018 budget proposal, New Starts grants would only be awarded to projects with existing FTA agreements.

  • The answer: it’s complicated. And it’s mostly a matter of how you count.

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