Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation

GoTriangle, in cooperation with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), prepared this Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation to evaluate the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (D-O LRT) Project. The DEIS evaluates the environmental, transportation, social, and economic impacts associated with the transportation improvements in the Durham-Orange (D-O) Corridor serving the cities of Chapel Hill and Durham in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina. Technical reports referenced in the DEIS are available in Appendix K.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the preparation of a DEIS for projects that involve a federal action, such as funding. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 C.F.R. §§ 1508.7 and 1508.8) define the impacts and effects that must be addressed and considered by federal agencies in satisfying the requirements of the NEPA process, which includes the following direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts:

•   Direct impacts or effects are caused by the action (D-O LRT Project) and occur at the same time and place. Direct impacts are discussed in each section of chapter 4.
•   Indirect impacts or effects are caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable. Indirect effects may include growth inducing effects and other effects related to induced changes in the pattern of land use, population density or growth rate, and related effects on air, water, and other natural systems, including ecosystems. Indirect effects are discussed in section 4.17.
•   Cumulative impacts are the impacts on the environment which result from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time. Cumulative impacts are discussed in section 4.17.

Note: The DEIS is a large document that has been divided into several files in PDF format, which you can read using Adobe Acrobat Reader or other PDF reader software. It may take several minutes to download the larger chapters, depending on your internet connection speed.

Public Review Period Now Closed

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the Notice of Availability for the D-O LRT Project’s DEIS in the Federal Register on Friday August 28, 2015, thus beginning the formal 45-day public review and comment period. The public review and comment period closed at 12:01 a.m. on October 14, 2015.

GoTriangle will held two public information sessions about the DEIS in advance of public hearings, on Tuesday, September 15 and Saturday, September 19More information, including the presentation video are available at: http://ourtransitfuture.com/deis-information-session/. You can view a longer presentation explaining the DEIS on YouTube.


The D-O LRT Project team encourages all interested and affected persons to continue to submit comments about the project. by

Written comments may be sent:

  • Via U.S. Mail:
    D-O LRT Project – DEIS
    c/o GoTriangle
    Post Office Box 530
    Morrisville, NC 27560

If you submitted comments on the DEIS during the 45-day public comment period, your comments will be included in the combined Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)/Record of Decision (ROD). All substantive comments submitted will receive a response in the FEIS.

Please Note: Personal identifying information, comments, and other information supplied to Triangle Triangle may be subject to public disclosure under the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132.1 et seq.).

Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)

Title Page, Table of Contents, Abstract

[20 pages | PDF | 55 KB]
The abstract provides a brief summary description of the corridor and proposed project, as well as the alternatives considered. The abstract also describes how the DEIS is organized.

Executive Summary

[32 pages | PDF | 1.86 MB]
The executive summary is a high level document that summarizes the DEIS by answering the following questions:

•   Who is Triangle Transit (GoTriangle)?
•   What is Light Rail Transit (LRT)?
•   Why LRT for the D-O Corridor?
•   What is the D-O LRT Project?
•   Why is the project needed?
•   What alternative were considered for the D-O LRT Project?
•   What is the No-Build Alternative?
•   What is evaluated in the DEIS?
•   What is the NEPA Preferred Alternative?
•   How will the D-O LRT project affect local traffic?
•   How much will the D-O LRT project cost?
•   What are the anticipated environmental impacts of the D-O LRT project?
•   How will the D-O LRT project costs be paid?
•   How has the public been engaged in the project?
•   When are the public workshops?
•   When is the public comment period?
•   How can I comment on the DEIS?

Executive Summary Errata Sheet

[3 pages | PDF | 214 KB]
Errata sheet to correct a date error on page ES-31.

Chapter 1 | Purpose and Need

[24 pages | PDF | 1.25 MB]
This chapter describes the background, purpose, and need for transportation improvements within the D-O Corridor. In order to address the transportation challenge faced by the region, and more specifically, within the D-O Corridor, and to cultivate a more substantial cycle of growth for the future, a high-capacity transportation infrastructure solution is required. This transportation solution must address the needs of the D-O Corridor: enhancing mobility, increasing connectivity through expanding transit options, serving major activity and employment centers, and increasing transit operating efficiency. This solution must also support local land use plans that call for compact development to manage and channel future growth along the transportation corridors that can sustainably support growth, promote economic development, and preserve the region’s high quality of life.

Chapter 2 | Alternatives Considered

[48 pages | PDF | 3.78 MB]
This chapter describes the alternatives considered during the planning process, including the alternatives considered and evaluated in the DEIS. This DEIS considers a No-Build Alternative, a NEPA Preferred Alternative, and several Project Element Alternatives.

The footer of this DEIS document is a representation of the NEPA Preferred and the Project Element Alternatives considered in the document. The color schema presented in the graphic is carried through the figures presented in this DEIS. The blue line represents the NEPA Preferred Alternative. The Little Creek Project Element Alternatives (C1, C1A, and C2) are represented with a red dashed line. The New Hope Creek Project Element Alternatives (NHC LPA and NHC 1) are represented with a green dashed line. In the areas where the alignment alternatives are presented, station locations will differ from the NEPA Preferred Alternative. The orange star represents the NEPA Preferred Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility (ROMF). The grey stars represent the Project Element ROMF Alternatives.

Alternatives for the D-O LRT Project

Chapter 3 | Transportation

[80 pages | PDF | 4.79 MB]
This chapter describes the projected transportation impacts of the No-Build and NEPA Preferred and Project Element Alternatives. The evaluation is based upon projected travel demand, transportation capacity, transportation performance measures, and impacts to the roadway network, parking, freight delivery, and pedestrian and bicycle network. The analysis was developed from travel demand forecasts for the project corridor using the Regional Travel Demand Model and reviewing transportation plans.

Chapter 4 | Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

[308 pages | PDF | 30.4 MB]
This chapter summarizes the affected environment and environmental consequences within the D-O LRT study areas. This represents both the existing environmental conditions in the study area prior to construction of the NEPA Preferred Alternative and environmental impacts associated with the construction of the NEPA Preferred and Project Element Alternatives.

Note that Section 106 requires consultation with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), federally recognized Native American tribes with an interest in the area, local governments, and other consulting and interested parties. A consultation meeting was held August 14, 2015, to review FTA’s Preliminary Determination of Effects on the undertaking (NEPA Preferred Alternative). Consultation will continue with the consulting parties per Section 106 consultation requirements. The final Section 106 Assessment of Effects for Historic Properties for Durham-Orange Light Rail Project will be posted separately for public comment. Triangle Transit will provide notification of the availability of this report for review via the project website, local newspapers, and through the project’s email contact list.

Chapter 5 | Environmental Justice

[38 pages | PDF | 2.86 MB]
This chapter assesses the potential impacts to minority and low income populations along the proposed D-O LRT Project alignment. The purpose is to ensure that these populations do not incur disproportionately high and adverse impacts as a result of the proposed D-O LRT Project. This analysis is in accordance with E.O. 12898, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Order 5610.2(a), and FTA Circular 4703.1 (effective date August 15, 2012).

Chapter 6 | Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation

[78 pages | PDF | 12.6 KB]
This chapter analyzes the proposed D-O LRT Project pursuant to Section 4(f) of the of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966, which protects publicly-owned parks, recreation areas, wildlife or waterfowl refuges, or any historic sites of national, state, or local significance. This chapter describes the potential uses of those resources and whether such use is permanent, temporary, or constructive use; if a property is used, the potential impacts are also considered.

Chapter 7 | Project Costs

[8 pages | PDF | 154 KB]
This chapter describes the costs associated with the D-O LRT Project, including both the capital costs and ongoing operations and maintenance costs.

Chapter 8 | Evaluation of Alternatives

[28 pages | PDF | 386 KB]
This chapter presents a summary comparison of the alternatives in the D-O LRT Project DEIS/Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation. The intent of this evaluation is to demonstrate the relative effectiveness of the NEPA Preferred Alternative and Project Element Alternatives compared with the No Build Alternative in meeting the project’s Purpose and Need statement.

Chapter 9 | Public Involvement and Agency Coordination

[51 pages | PDF | 884 KB]
NEPA regulations require that transportation projects provide a transparent, inclusive mechanism for identifying and engaging stakeholders meaningfully, as well as documenting feedback. This chapter documents the dialogue between Triangle Transit (GoTriangle), interested residents, stakeholders, and government agencies regarding issues raised by the proposed D-O LRT Project. It also summarizes public and stakeholder involvement during the Alternatives Analysis, NEPA Scoping, and Project Development phase through the publication of the DEIS.


Appendix A – Acronyms and Abbreviations [9 pages | PDF | 2.25 MB]

Appendix B – Glossary of Terms [17 pages | PDF | 752 KB]

Appendix C – List of Preparers [6 pages | PDF | 695 KB]

Appendix D – Distribution List [6 pages | PDF | 684 KB]

Appendix E – Legal and Regulatory Context [19 pages | PDF | 911 KB]

Appendix F – References [9 pages | PDF | 948 KB]

Appendix G – Agency Correspondence [244 pages | PDF | 46.1 MB]

Appendix H – Scoping Report [49 pages | PDF | 4.29 MB]

Appendix I – Environmental Justice [17 pages | PDF | 1.52 MB]

Appendix J – Public Outreach

•   Appendix J1 – 2013 Public Meeting Materials [39 pages | PDF | 6.78 MB]

•   Appendix J2a – 2014 Public Meeting Materials [64 pages | PDF | 7.36 MB]

•   Appendix J2b – 2014 Public Meeting Materials [41 pages | PDF | 14.8 MB]

•   Appendix J3a – 2015 Public Meeting Materials [105 pages | PDF | 11.2 MB]

•   Appendix J3b – 2015 Public Meeting Materials [81 pages | PDF | 15.2 MB]

•   Appendix J4 – Small Group and Property Owner Outreach [47 pages | PDF | 10.0 MB]

•   Appendix J5 – Media Coverage and Website Usage [7 pages | PDF | 845 KB]

•   Appendix J6 – Survey Results [3 pages | PDF | 589 KB]

•   Appendix J7 – Public Comments and Hotline Log [6 pages | PDF | 128 KB]

•   Appendix J8 – Steering, Technical and Communication Advisory Committee [79 pages | PDF | 3.19 MB]

Appendix K – Technical Reports

Appendix L – Basis of Engineering Design Plans

•   Appendix L VOL –1 Basis for Engineering Drawing Plans – February 2015 [48 pages | PDF | 44.2 MB]

•   Appendix L VOL –2 Basis for Engineering Drawing Plans – February 2015 [51 pages | PDF | 43.4 MB]

•   Appendix L VOL –3 Basis for Engineering Drawing Plans – February 2015 [61 pages | PDF | 40.0 MB]

Appendix M – 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan [47 pages | PDF | 7.82 MB]

Appendix N – Section 106 Technical Reports [2 pages | PDF | 664 KB]

•   Appendix N1 – Agency Correspondence [19 pages | PDF | 1.46 MB]

•   Appendix N2 – Tribal Consultation [10 pages | PDF | 1.74 MB]

•   Appendix N3 – Consulting Parties Correspondence [35 pages | PDF | 3.64 MB]

•   Appendix N4 – Early Coordination Meetings [148 pages | PDF | 23.6 MB]

•   Appendix N5 – Roxboro Bridge Wingwall – Vibration Impact Assessment [12 pages | PDF | 4.0 MB]

•   Appendix N6 – Consulting Parties Meeting [54 pages | PDF | 12.0 MB]


*Please note: Some of the files are quite large. Please be patient as they download. If you would like to save the document to your computer for future reference, right click on the link and choose “Save Link As…” from the context menu. When the file browser window appears, select the location on your computer where you would like to save the file and press “Save.”

Additional Information

For additional information concerning this document, please contact:

Stanley A Mitchell
Environmental Protection Specialist
Federal Transit Administration, Region IV
230 Peachtree Street, NW – Suite 1400
Atlanta, GA 30303
Email: stanley.a.mitchell@dot.gov
Natalie Murdock
Interim Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Triangle Transit (GoTriangle)
Post Office Box 530
Morrisville, NC 27560
Email:  nmurdock@gotriangle.org

Notice to the Public of Section 106 Assessment of Effects for Historic Properties Request for Public Comment

RE: ER 12-0378, Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project, Durham and Orange Counties, North Carolina

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), in cooperation with the Research Triangle Regional Public Transportation Authority (dba “Triangle Transit”), is currently in the project development phase for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (D-O LRT) Project (an “Undertaking,” pursuant to 36 C.F.R. 800.4(a)(1) and 800.16(d)). In accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended and 36 C.F.R. 800, the FTA and Triangle Transit herewith advise all interested persons or groups that the proposed project will have No Adverse Effect on historic properties eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (National Register).

The proposed D-O LRT Project is a 17 mile double-track light rail transit LRT line with 17 proposed stations that will greatly expand transit service in Durham and Orange Counties. The D-O LRT Project extends from western terminus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) at the UNC Hospitals Station to the eastern terminus in Durham at the Alston Avenue Station.

Section 106 regulations require that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) identify historic properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register within the project’s Area of Potential Effects (APE); assess effects to historic properties; avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate any adverse effects; and consult with North Carolina’s State Historic Preservation Officer and other consulting parties throughout the Section 106 process as appropriate.

Twenty-five historic properties listed in or determined eligible for the National Register have been identified within the D-O LRT Project’s APE. These historic properties include buildings, districts, and structures. The effects of the D-O LRT on all historic properties were assessed and are documented in a Section 106 Assessment of Effects for Historic Properties Report, which was prepared in compliance with C.F.R 800.4 and 800.5. FTA and Triangle Transit have determined that the project will have “No Effect” on thirteen properties and “No Adverse Effect” on twelve properties out of the 25 National Register or National Register eligible properties located within the APE. This determination was made in consultation with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office and other consulting parties.

Any person or group wishing to submit comments regarding the No Adverse Effect determination to these historic properties may do so in writing. The public comment period for the review of the Section 106 Assessment of Effects for Historic Properties Report will extend from September 11, 2015 to October 13, 2015. Comments may be mailed or emailed. Emailed comments should be marked “SECTION 106” in the subject line and directed to info@ourtransitfuture.com. Mailed comments should be mailed to SECTION 106/D-O LRT Project c/o Triangle Transit, P.O. Box 530, Morrisville, NC 27560. Letters must be postmarked no later than October 13, 2015.

The Section 106 Assessment of Effects for Historic Properties Report will be available for public inspection and copying at GoTriangle’s Administrative Offices at 4600 Emperor Blvd., Durham, NC 27703 or online athttp://ourtransitfuture.com/projects/durham-orange/.

ER 12-0738 State Historic Preservation Office Concurrence of Section 106 Effects Report [1 page | PDF | 97 KB]

Draft Section 106 Assessment of Effects for Historic Properties Report [224 page | PDF | 32 MB]

Click here for maps, previous studies, technical reports, and other project documents.