A new report shows that the Triangle area commuter rail project faces many challenges


DURHAM, NC — The 45-page feasibility study describes the need for a suburban railway in the Triangle area and the problems of its construction.

The performance report looked “whether and how to move forward” with the project. The report goes into detail about where to find funds for the project.

Based on a map shown to WRAL News, the proposed rail would run 40 miles through Durham and Wake counties and possibly even Johnston County.

GoTriangle Board Chairman Sig Hutchinson said that despite ​questions raised in the report about how to pay for the roughly $3 billion in costs and how to get the necessary approvals from public and private partners, he was confident it would be done .

“I have no problem with the possibility of commuter rail,” Hutchinson said. “We will move forward.”

When asked about optimism, Hutchinson said the project is what the community needs.

“We need it, it’s necessary for our continued growth and quality of life,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson was a board member during the failed light rail project for the Triangle and is using his experience from that project to help with the planned commuter rail.

“We’ve always learned things like communication, or relationships with partners, or relationships with the government or the General Assembly,” Hutchinson said. “Light rail is behind us and we’re moving forward with commuter rail.”

Although Hutchinson is confident that the project can be completed, GoTriangle’s CEO Charles Lettuce did not reach this level of optimism.

“There are problems and there are risks. The main problem is the financial problem,” Latuka said. “The project cost $1 billion more than we estimated.”

According to Latucka, the higher cost is partly inflation, partly “things we discovered that we didn’t know about,” freight rail and what they feel they need.

“We’ll have to see what we can afford and what the public wants,” Hutchinson said. “This is a whole new conversation, public input is important.”

Public entrance for commuter rail

As for how to pay for it, the funding source would be a half-cent sales tax approved in Wake and Durham counties.

If the tax falls short, GoTriangle will also rely on federal funding, which has not been secured.

However, even if everything goes quickly, it is likely that someone will be able to board a commuter rail in 2033. Latuka said if construction is phased, it could take 20 or even 30 years before it’s finished.

Despite the potential length of the project, Lattuca wants to be patient with it.

“We’re very careful before we do this study and ask the county to spend a lot of money in the development phase,” Latucca said. “We don’t want to start development unless we’re sure we can get the project off the ground.”

A new report shows that the Triangle area commuter rail project faces many challenges

Source link A new report shows that the Triangle area commuter rail project faces many challenges