Orange County approves transit plan, cost-share agreement

ORANGE COUNTY, NC (April 27, 2017) — The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved the Orange County Transit Plan at its regularly scheduled work session tonight. The  5-2 vote will allow the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (DOLRT) project to move forward.

“We heard from many residents on both sides of the issue over the last few months, and we appreciate their passion and interest,” said Chair Mark Dorosin. “The potential benefits of the light rail are great. This project could stimulate economic development along the route, reduce congestion on our roads and make it easier for people to access their jobs.”

The board also approved the Durham-Orange Light Rail Cost Sharing Agreement, which calls for Durham to pay 81.5 percent of the local construction costs and Orange to pay 16.5 percent. The remaining 2 percent is to be funded by a community collaborative. Initially, Orange County was slated to pay 23 percent of the local costs, but the addition of a station serving N.C Central in Durham prompted commissioners to negotiate a new cost-share with Durham County. The negotiated agreement could save Orange County taxpayers more than $58 million.

“We greatly appreciate our colleagues in Durham County for working with us to find a more equitable cost-share agreement,” said Dorosin.

In February, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) asked Durham and Orange counties, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC) and GoTriangle to update the transit plans by April 30 to show that at least 30 percent of the non-federal funding will come from dedicated, local transit money. The FTA is waiting on the updated information to determine whether the light rail project in Durham and Orange counties can move into the engineering phase and be eligible for a federal investment of more than $1 billion through a New Starts Grant, which is part of the FTA’s Capital Investment Program.