Durham Commissioners Want You to Know There's Good Stuff About Light Rail, Too | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Durham Commissioners Want You to Know There's Good Stuff About Light Rail, Too

Posted by on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 11:20 AM

Durham County commissioners are hopeful about a plan to connect Durham, Wake, and Orange via light rail, commuter train, and express bus service, even though the cost of building light rail may force commuter rail to be delayed.

Four residents who spoke during a public comment period at last night’s board of commissioners meeting were also optimistic.

One speaker argued that light rail can help low-income communities, saying "disproportionately white NIMBYs" are oblivious to the problems this type of transit plan can alleviate. Another, a transit planner and self-professed light rail "aficionado," lamented that the Triangle is a little late to the light rail "game" and that Raleigh-Durham International Airport isn't included in the light rail line, but said he supports the plan nonetheless. A third called light rail "a sane and sustainable way" to keep up with the Triangle's projected growth.

The board on Tuesday night got an update from GoTriangle, which is heading up the regional transit proposal, focusing on the costs of light rail and what the $3.3 billion project would mean for future plans to build a thirty-seven-mile commuter rail line from Duke University to Garner.
click to enlarge Plans for connecting Durham, Orange and Wake counties via light rail, commuter rail and bus service. - GOTRIANGLE
  • GoTriangle
  • Plans for connecting Durham, Orange and Wake counties via light rail, commuter rail and bus service.

GoTriangle representatives are making the rounds of local boards ahead of an April 30 deadline from the Federal Transit Authority. In order to move ahead with a federal grant application that would pay for half of the cost of light rail, the FTA is asking GoTriangle for updated cost estimates, a cost-sharing agreement between Durham and Orange counties, transit plans for each county, and proof of funding commitments for at least 30 percent of the approximately $1.9 billion in local funds needed to build light rail. (Counties will pay their share with revenues from a half-cent transit tax, car rental fees, and vehicle registration fees.)

Because of changes in federal and state funding, GoTriangle will have to borrow more money to get light rail done. That development caused some concerns about whether Durham could afford to contribute to commuter rail as planned.

Originally, construction on commuter rail was set to begin in 2018 and finish in 2026. But Mindy Taylor, GoTriangle's senior financial analyst, explained Tuesday that the county wouldn't have the funds to build commuter rail and light rail (which has a 2020 start date) at the same time. Overlapping construction would leave Durham's transit fund with a more than $150 million shortfall some years and could limit what the state would be able to contribute.

Taylor said that the same state funding change affecting light rail affects commuter rail. Legislators last summer capped state contributions for all rail projects at ten percent of the total project cost, down from the twenty-five percent contribution GoTriangle had expected earlier in its planning.

"Constructing commuter rail in the same years as light rail exactly is not workable," said Commissioner Ellen Reckhow. But, Reckhow says, both projects can get done with the right timing and revenue sourcing. She says the $5.3 billion in revenue that will come from the dedicated transit tax and fees by 2062 "shows we have the capacity to expand transit."

GoTriangle has modeled a few different scenarios for completing light rail and commuter rail (they were not presented Tuesday). One, Reckhow says, delays commuter rail by ten years and seeks private contributions.

"It isn't like we're ready to do this now anyway," said board chairwoman Wendy Jacobs, noting that a commuter rail planning study will begin next year.

Jacobs said it's a big investment but worth it. The overall transit plan, she argued, will connect job centers, encourage investment around rail stations, alleviate traffic, and help lift people out of poverty by concentrating affordable housing near public transit.

"If we can do this, I truly believe we can become one of the most important regions not just in the country but in the world," Jacobs said.

The board will hold another public hearing on the transit plan April 24. It is expected to vote on it then.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

Nobody agrees with these left handed Nazis more than Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban.
The good news is you …

by Jaddy Baddy on Governor Cooper Calls for the Removal of Confederate Monuments (News)

I support the removal of the statues 100%. I support civil disobedience and thank those who are willing to take …

by Kate Sterling on Bree Newsome, Who Pulled Down S.C. Confederate Flag in 2015, Salutes Durham Demonstrators (News)

Most Recent Comments

Nobody agrees with these left handed Nazis more than Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban.
The good news is you …

by Jaddy Baddy on Governor Cooper Calls for the Removal of Confederate Monuments (News)

I support the removal of the statues 100%. I support civil disobedience and thank those who are willing to take …

by Kate Sterling on Bree Newsome, Who Pulled Down S.C. Confederate Flag in 2015, Salutes Durham Demonstrators (News)

I don't live in Holding's district, and I would never vote for him. However, I did run into him at …

by ct on Constituents to Congressman George Holding: You Suck (News)

It seems that he's more a fan of the status quo, Norf. But only time will truly tell whether he …

by ammi on Governor Cooper Calls for the Removal of Confederate Monuments (News)

Marc, is racism, xenophobia and nationalism dangerous to others or not?

by ammi on The Twitter User Doxxing White Supremacists Who Marched in Charlottesville Is from Raleigh (News)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation