A key deadline is looming for the Durham-Orange light rail project. Officials at GoTriangle have until Thursday, Feb. 28, to sign cooperative agreements with Duke University and two railroad companies. To date, Duke has not yet agreed to donate land needed to run the rail line through downtown Durham.
Duke officials raised concerns last November that the rail line could interfere with patient care and emergency access to the Duke University Medical Center.
Supporters say it’s possible to address these concerns after the February deadline to qualify for federal funding.
At a press conference Monday, Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott said the light rail line and associated development will add to the city’s supply of affordable housing.
“The Durham-Orange light rail is at the center of a rare opportunity for large scale to have a direct positive impact to our most vulnerable communities in Durham,” said Scott. “The path to greater shared prosperity has significant opportunity through the connectivity that the light rail offers.”
Leaders from Durham Technical Community College, the Durham Housing Authority, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People and other community groups spoke in front of a vacant former public housing site, emphasizing that the DOLRT project could help revitalize the Fayetteville Road corridor.
“One of the great needs for our residents is access to transportation,” said Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods (Durham CAN member Mike Broadway. “The GoTriangle Durham-Orange light rail project would place transit stations near thousands of our low-income residents, making it possible for them to get to good-paying jobs, health care appointments and to other benefits of Durham’s growing prosperity."
More than 150 Duke faculty, staff, alumni and students signed a letter published in the Duke Chronicle on Monday urging the university to agree to donate land for the project.
The rail line is estimated to cost approximately $2.4 billion, to be paid through a mix of local, state and federal funding. If completed, the nearly 18-mile rail line would run from UNC Hospitals to Duke and North Carolina Central University, with 19 stops along the way.