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Durham-Orange Light Rail Plan Gets Federal Thumbs Up

By Danny Hooley Posted February 26, 2014 at 12:25 am

CARRBORO – The agenda for Tuesday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting in Carrboro was fairly routine business. There were scheduled votes on language to be added to the town’s Land Use Ordinance, as well as appointments to town boards.

But Alderman Damon Seils started things off on a high note for his colleagues with some news about the Durham-Orange Light Rail plan.

“I’m just really happy to be able to share the news that came out just late this afternoon that the Federal Transit Administration announced that they have approved Triangle Transit’s request to move the Durham-Orange Light Rail project into project development phase,” he announced, to a chorus of “wows” from fellow aldermen.

“That’s the big news we’ve all been waiting for,” he added.

That begins a two-year process in which Triangle Transit studies the environmental impact of the proposed light rail system.

After Tuesday night’s meeting, Seils talked to WCHL about the significance of the news.

“In the life of a large capital project, like a light rail project of this kind, this is a major step in the process,” said Seils. “So, to have cleared this hurdle with the Federal Transit Administration – it’s not only, I think, a validation of the work that all the planners and the voters and everyone in the community has been doing.

“It’s a vote of confidence by the federal government that they see this project having merit, and that it’s something they’re willing to invest money and time in.”

The 17-mile light rail system between UNC Hospitals and Alston Avenue in Durham is part of the larger Orange County Bus and Rail Investment Plan slated for the next two decades. The light rail has a projected start of service around 2026.

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