After the County Commissioners from Durham and Orange counties approved county transit plans at their respective meetings this week, the GoTriangle Board of Trustees signed unanimously voted to approve the updated plans and revised cost-sharing agreement on Friday.
The vote of the regional transit organization was the final vote needed to meet an April 30 deadline put forward by the Federal Transit Administration. The updated documentation allows the project to be eligible for more than $1 billion in federal investment.
The FTA is expected to provide 50 percent of the funding for the $2.476 billion project. The total cost, including financing, of the 17.7-mile light rail transit line is $3.3 billion.
“This is a historic moment and a significant investment in the future prosperity of Durham, Orange and Wake counties,” said Wendy Jacobs, Durham County Board of Commissioners chairperson and GoTriangle board member. “Through strong collaboration and hard work, we’ve enhanced our transit plans to best meet the needs of our residents and visitors and to improve the vitality of our regional transportation network with bus and rail connections. The support of our four local boards brings us one step closer to receiving the green light from the Federal Transit Administration for the design and engineering of the Durham-Orange Light Rail project and one step closer to making this integrated regional transit system a reality.”
Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs, who also serves as a GoTriangle board member, said, “I want to sincerely thank the staff members of GoTriangle, Durham County and Orange County for their dedication and tireless effort to get the transit plans and the cost-sharing agreement updated quickly and in a meaningful way. Through this process, we’ve developed transit plans that we can all be proud of and that will help our region stay competitive and manage rapid growth.”
The new transit plans include investments in extended bus service in both counties, but opponents of the plan criticized the cost of the light rail line, saying the funding should have gone to further increases in bus routes.
The Orange County plan also includes a new Amtrak station in Hillsborough. The Durham County plan funds the light rail line as well as a commuter rail line connecting Durham and Wake counties.
The newly approved plans have now set to be submitted to the FTA as part of the application process to move the project into the engineering phase. GoTriangle officials said in an email that the federal agency had responded saying it received the new documentation.