State Budget Threatens Durham-Orange Light Rail Project

Sep 17, 2015

A provision in the legislature's new budget proposal would limit state spending on any light rail project to $500,000 per-year.

That's a far cry from what the North Carolina Department of Transportation recommended contributing to the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail project. In its State Transportation Improvement Program, NCDOT allotted $138 million for GoTriangle's light rail project.

GoTriangle General Manager Jeff Mann says the $1.6 billion light rail project relies on federal and local money for 75 percent of the project, with the final quarter coming from the state.

"It's problematic for the project and, if it moves forward, it would limit the amount of state funding that could be expended, which would mean additional burden on the local share in order to fully find the project," says Mann.

He says he hopes the final state budget doesn't end up cutting into the project.

"This budget is a proposal now. It has not been passed, it has not been signed into law," Mann says. "So, we certainly hope, if it's not changed in this budget, that it would be changed in future budgets. And we'll continue to seek funding for the project, because we think this light rail project is the best transportation solution for the Durham-Orange corridor."

Lawmakers are expected to vote on a state spending plan this evening.