Angela Cotey | Progressive Railroading
Triangle Transit is advancing plans to build a light-rail line that will connect Chapel Hill and East Durham, N.C. The 17-mile Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project would include stops at the University of North Carolina, its hospitals, residential and business districts, Duke University and Duke Medical Center, downtown Durham and North Carolina Central University.
The light-rail project is one component of a regional transportation plan Triangle Transit has developed to address the growing population in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Cary and Durham. The region has grown dramatically in recent years and currently is home to about 1.4 million people. That number is expected to double in 25 years, says TTA General Manager David King.
“There is something about knowing that literally hundreds of thousands of people are coming to your region that tends to focus the mind,” he says.
That’s why, when King joined the agency in 2006 after a 33-year stint at the North Carolina Department of Transportation, he revisited a transit-expansion plan that had been shelved earlier that year. In the early 2000s, Triangle Transit officials were discussing a 27-mile Durham-to-Raleigh regional rail line, over which diesel multiple units would operate along the state-owned North Carolina Railroad Co.’s right of way. The line would serve Research Triangle Park, Cary and North Carolina State University. But as the project worked its way through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts process, Triangle Transit officials realized it wouldn’t be approved for the federal program. Ridership estimates weren’t as strong as other proposed systems in the United States and the agency did not yet have a local funding match secured. Execs withdrew the agency’s application. Read more