Transit Thursday: Taking Steps Towards Our Transit Future

It may still be many years before the first light rail tracks are installed, but that doesn’t mean Triangle Transit isn’t already breaking ground.

On Tuesday evening, Triangle Transit received word that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) had approved the agency’s request to enter Project Development on the 17-mile Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project. In a Triangle Transit press release, Fred Day IV,  Chair of the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees, announced, “We are pleased with FTA’s decision. This represents an important milestone in the course of this project.”

Now that this milestone has been reached, what can we expect in the next phase?

First, let’s locate where we are on the project timeline:

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 5.59.44 PM

The FTA website includes a diagram  (shown above) of the updated New Starts Project Development Process, the program that Triangle Transit initially requested entry into in December.

The Project Development phase is scheduled to take two years, followed by a three-year engineering phase. Per the diagram, once the engineering phase is completed, construction would commence under a full funding grant agreement and likely take four to five years before light rail service began.

In a November 2013 project update, a similar timeline was also shared on the Our Transit Future website:

lightrailtimeline(click image to enlarge)

As you can see, Triangle Transit is right on schedule with Project Development approval. The two years of Project Development are estimated to end by 2016, with the three-year engineering phase continuing between 2016 and 2019. Construction will begin after the engineering phase and wrap up by 2025. In 2026, the Durham-Orange light rail line is expected to fully operational.

Now that we know where our current Project Development phase puts us, we can examine how the phase moves us forward.

During Project Development, the light rail route and train station locations will be determined and a Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision will be completed. The Durham Orange Light Rail “fly-through” video below offers a better look at what that route may be:

Slowly but steadily, Triangle Transit planners are maneuvering through the FTA planning and Project Development process. The FTA Project Development approval is an early result of much behind-the-scenes work. Next week, we’ll further examine that work by exploring  the roles both the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision play.

To see more of what the future Durham-Orange light rail may entail, check out the images below.

Most recent light rail route map: lightrailmap

 Artist’s rendering of a Durham light rail station:



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