Durham-Orange Light Rail Nears Next Step in Grant Process, Has No Guarantee of Federal Funding | News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Durham-Orange Light Rail Nears Next Step in Grant Process, Has No Guarantee of Federal Funding

Posted by on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 12:20 PM

The Federal Transit Administration could decide within a few weeks whether the proposed Durham-Orange light rail can move onto the next phase of an application to win a grant that would cover half the cost of the $3.3 billion project.

Mike Charbonneau, communications director for GoTriangle, which is working with Durham and Orange counties to head the project, said the transit authority expects to hear from the FTA by the end of July.

If the FTA gives its approval, Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit can move from the project development phase of a federal grant application process to the engineering and design phase. Charbonneau said some design work has already been done in terms of environmental assessment, mapping the 17.7-mile route, and doing initial engineering work.
click to enlarge A rendering of a Durham light rail station. - GOTRIANGLE
  • GoTriangle
  • A rendering of a Durham light rail station.

"If the project is approved in the final federal budget and moved into construction in 2020, the project in its entirety is eligible for a fifty percent match," Charbonneau said. "The federal match is critical to get the project done. As important as light rail is to Durham and Orange counties, clearly it couldn’t be built without this funding."

If all goes as planned, construction is expected to be complete in 2028, with the system operational in 2029.

Although GoTriangle remains optimistic about the project's viability, there is a chance the funding could fall through. A budget proposal put forth by President Trump for fiscal year 2018 would only award grants to projects with existing FTA agreements.

"Nationally and locally, everyone is watching but also feeling confident that the federal discussion and budget processes will recognize the value of transit," Charbonneau said.

According to the FTA, moving into the project development phase is not a guarantee that the project will ultimately be funded.

"The president’s budget proposal includes no funding for new [Capital Investment Grant] projects, and thus project sponsors that do not yet have construction grant agreements acknowledge they are undertaking additional work at their own risk which may not receive CIG funding," an FTA spokesperson said in an email to the INDY.

Charbonneau says the project’s progress will not be impacted by the continuation of a state funding cap on light rail projects. Currently, the state can contribute no more than 10 percent of the total cost to a light rail project, and financing for DOLRT was built around that limitation. There were three attempts to change that cap this session. A House budget proposal would have eliminated the cap, but the edit didn't make into the legislature's final budget compromise.

In a letter released Monday, state transportation secretary James Trogdon highlighted the lack of movement on the funding cap as "an area of concern" in the state budget.

"Current law has capped state funding for light rail, which was inconsistent with the Strategic Transportation Investments Law and in effect, cancelled a planned commitment of $138 million for the
Durham-Orange light rail line," Trogdon wrote. "A light rail system for this region would boost business development and recruitment, and also assist commuters along this growing corridor. A provision to remove the cap was present in the House version, but removed in conference—a missed opportunity for the entire state to increase our competitiveness with peer southeastern and growing states nationally."

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

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


Most Recent Comments

@jerryg so if the mayor has no power why should we vote then?

by snake00 on Runoff for Raleigh Mayor's Post May Be Ahead as Francis Denies McFarlane a Majority of Votes (News)

Cora landed the endorsements of the Durham Committee (DC) and the Friends (FD) for 10,400 votes.
Huggins with the DC …

by Frank Hyman on Cole-McFadden Survives Durham Council Primary, Moffitt Does Not (News)

Cora landed the endorsements of the Durham Committee (DC) and the Friends (FD) for 10,400 votes.
Huggins with the DC …

by Frank Hyman on Durham's Next Mayor Will Be Steve Schewel or Farad Ali (News)

Just because one of our two newly elected Council members is pro-neighborhood and natural resources, it does not qualify her …

by Meredith de la Vergne on Make Way for the NIMBY Raleigh City Council, as Newcomers Nicole Stewart and Stef Mendell Oust Bonner Gaylord and Defeat Stacy Miller (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