Durham says it can cover light-rail plan funding gap

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Durham addresses light rail shortfall.

Durham and Orange counties announced Monday that they have found a solution for the more than $57 million shortfall to fund the light-rail project between Durham and Chapel Hill.

The $2.5 billion line will connect UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central University in Durham with about 18 miles of stops.

Durham County said its transit revenues are robust and sufficient to cover the shortfall and it will present this solution to both counties' boards of commissioners in advance of a project progress report due to the Federal Transit Administration in early September.

"We appreciate the collaborative and cooperative support of our colleagues in Durham, and are encouraged that we've been able to come up with a positive strategy for keeping the Durham-Orange Light Rail project moving forward," said Mark Dorosin, Chair of the Board of Orange County Commissioners.

The most current financial model for the light rail project relied on a State contribution of 10 percent or $247.6 million. In June, the North Carolina General Assembly placed several limitations on the Light Rail Project, including limiting the maximum State contribution to $190 million. This limitation created a funding shortfall of $57.6 million, according to the counties.

"Durham County continues to remain committed to working closely with our Orange County partners for the successful implementation of the Durham Orange Light Rail Project, which will provide an important transportation option and better connect the people of our communities to jobs, healthcare and education," said Wendy Jacobs, Chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners.
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