Top 10 Things You Want to Know About Project Development: 10

ourtansitfutureHello all,

I hope you’re staying warm and dry on this rainy Monday. Spring seems to be here to stay, and with the new season comes new blog series. We’ve been finishing up our March series over the last week, and today, Meghan answers the last question in our official Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project Development Q&A:

10) How do you move from Project Development to the next phase?

Meghan: April showers bring more answers.

What? That’s not how the phrase goes?


Anyhow, hi everyone! My sincere apologies for the delay in the final Top 10 response. I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath and all…

What? No!?!

You’ve been busy watching the Final Four?

You’ve been outside enjoying the beautiful weather before these April showers arrived?

You mean to tell me the finding out MORE about Project Development wasn’t at the VERY TOP of your to-do lists?!

OK, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear your response…

Well, as you may have heard, things have been getting quite busy here in Triangle Transit HQ! Lots to do!!!

So let’s get right to it!
The last question comes to us all the way from the interwebs!!!! Wait, Grace just informed me that all of our questions have come from the interwebs! Oh, modern technology!

10: How do you move from PD to the next phase?

Well, “interested interwebber,” in order to move from Project Development to the next phase, Engineering, Triangle Transit must complete a number of very big steps over the next 24 (now 22 -phew! Time flies!) months.

Step 1: We develop with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) a document called “THE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT” ((in my head there was an echoing voice saying this; hence the all caps))

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement will disclose the project’s potential impact on both the human and natural environment.


This involves looking at the existing conditions today – What does the corridor look like? Where are the homes and businesses, parks and community resources? What do buildings look like? Where are historic structures? What is congestion like now? What is bus service like now? How noisy is it out there? Are there protected flowers, fish, and other wildlife? Who will be potentially affected by construction? What will the benefits be for the community?

Then we look at what the conditions will be like in the future: 1) if we do nothing at all, 2) if we build the light rail and also 3) what the benefits and drawbacks may be to building particular alignment options (there are a few).

All of this and more will be disclosed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement! MMMMmmmmm data!

So you, the public, then get to learn about how you may or may not be affected by the proposed project.

It’s a lot of information, but don’t worry! We’re going to make sure you understand this information.

Have a way you like information presented to you?


Like videos?


Prefer a quick facts sheet?


Want us to meet with your group?


In order to produce the best information possible, we want to come to you! We want you to tell us your priorities, your concerns, your questions. That way we are developing this Draft Environmental Impact Statement not only FOR YOU, but also WITH YOU!

Right now, we’re meeting with small groups, big groups, community associations, neighborhood associations, student groups, faculty groups, employee groups, committees, advocacy groups and many, many, more!

Want us to meet with your group? Call or email us NOW! 1-800-816-7817 You may even see me, your favorite (ok, self-proclaimed favorite) guest blogger, MEGHAN!

Oh! Then, later this fall, we’ll be holding public meetings to present the findings for the Draft EIS. This is definitely something you will not want to miss! So keep a watch out for more information!

Once we’ve held meetings we’ll circulate the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. This will be your opportunity to formally comment on the findings. You’ll be able to do this via email, fax, snail mail, or at a public hearing in the winter/early spring 2015.

After that, we’ll take all of the information received, evaluate all substantive comments (as much as we appreciate the comments that say “I love light rail” we love the ones even more that tell us exactly what your concerns are with specific findings in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Then we move to Step 2) The Final Environmental Impact Statement.

What?! That seems like forever from now based on all that you just wrote, Meghan!

Well, it’s not. In less than 24 months we will be presenting the Final Environmental Impact Statement. This will declare the final routing, station locations, rail operations maintenance facility location; otherwise known as the Locally Preferred Alternative.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement will address the substantive comments received and present the final recommendations for mitigation. This document will be circulated publicly by the Federal Transit Administration.

Then we move to Step 3) the Locally Preferred Alternative will then be presented to the Triangle Transit Board and the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization for adoption (again, the final alignment routing, station locations, and location of the rail operations maintenance facility).

Once the Final Environmental Impact Statement is circulated and the Locally Preferred Alternative has been adopted by the MPO, the FTA will issue a Record of Decision or ROD!

Step 4: FTA Issues a ROD
The ROD is the final step before Triangle Transit can apply with the Federal Transit Administration to Request Entry into Engineering!

The ROD is written by the Federal Transit Administration and states what the project is; identifies the alternatives considered, including the environmentally preferred alternative; and discusses mitigation plans, including any enforcement and
monitoring commitments. The ROD will also discuss if all practical means to avoid or minimize environmental harm
have been adopted, and if not, why they were not. The ROD is a publicly available document that will be issued by the Federal Transit Administration.

Once this has been issued we can finally apply with the Federal Transit Administration to Request Entry into Engineering! The next phase of the project!!!

Once we are permitted to enter engineering we work non-stop on refining the design (What stations will look like? What features will be included? What will the specific design curves and structures be? What will the structures look like? How will art be integrated?, etc. Engineering takes approximately 3 years to complete, as we will move from conceptual engineering to final design!

After that, we can FINALLY apply for a Full Funding Grant Agreement.

Each of these stages is equally important in the process and we cannot move to the next phase without completing all of the interim steps.

Most importantly, we cannot do any of this planning or engineering without YOU!!!

So keep in touch interwebs! I’m looking forward to meeting you IRL soon!

..Off to meet with the Kiwanis Club of Durham right now! See y’all in a few!


While the “official” Project Development Q&A may be over, some questions may still remain, and as we move forward in the process, more may appear. In last Monday’s post, Meghan explained how you can become involved in the light rail project, but even more importantly, how you can stay involved in the project. Your input is a necessary part of the Project Development phase. So if you have more questions or think of something we haven’t covered, don’t worry – we’re still all ears. Call 1-800-816-7817 , email Our Transit Future at, and keep an eye on the Our Transit Future calendar for upcoming public outreach events.

 – Grace

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