Durham and Orange Counties’ Light Rail Project

What is the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?

The Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (D-O LRT) Project, a 17.7 mile project that will serve Durham & Orange Counties connecting residents to employment, health care and educational opportunities along some of the region’s most congested corridors.

Why do we need the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?

For our community to continue grow and still maintain a high quality of life, the Triangle needs a high-quality interconnected transportation system. Years of transportation studies, identified the Corridor between Durham and Chapel Hill as one of the highest priority corridors for transit investment.

Even under current demands the roadway network and transit systems between the City and Town are beginning to strain. Congestion continues to increase and as more people move to our area all residents and visitors will experience increased travel times and spread out development compromising our open space and rural areas.

This project will connect residents to many of our areas top employers, provide access to high-quality medical care and educational opportunities, and help our local governments prepare for growth by fostering compact development along a high capacity transportation network.

How much will the project cost?

The project will cost $2.476 billion dollars, including inflation and other costs, and about $29 million a year to operate.

  • 50% ($1.238 billion) of the funding is expected to come from the Federal Transit Administration through the New Starts Capital Investment Grant program.
  • 40% ($991 million) is expected to come from local resources dedicated to fund transit in our area, including: a voter approved half-cent sales tax, vehicle registration fees, and right-of-way and other private donations.
  • 10% ($248 million) can come from the state through North Carolina’s Department of Transportation’s Strategic Transportation Investment program.

The annual operating and maintenance costs would be funded from a combination of local tax-district revenue funds and fare revenue.

When will the Project be open?

The project is planned to be in opened in 2028.

What is Light Rail?

Light Rail is a transit technology that is lighter than other traditional passenger rail systems like subways or commuter rail.

Light rail operates in dedicated tracks with electrical power supplied from an overhead catenary system. The light rail vehicles are designed to operate in mixed traffic or in an exclusive right‐of‐way, either at grade or on an elevated structure.

Light rail has been used in several regions including: Seattle/Tacoma, Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Charlotte, Norfolk, Denver and Portland.

What's New?

On July 28, 2017, the Federal Transit Administration approved Durham and Orange Counties’ light rail project to advance into the Engineering phase of the federal Capital Investment Grant Program.

The FTA approval letter read in part: “FTA has determined that GoTriangle has the technical capacity and capability to effectively manage the Engineering phase of the Project.”

FTA evaluated the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (D-O LRT) project and issued favorable ratings in three major areas: the local financial commitment, the justification for the project and the project’s engineering readiness. FTA’s favorable justification rating is based on mobility improvements, environmental benefits, congestion relief, economic development effects, land use and cost-effectiveness.

Project next steps: 

  • GoTriangle will continue working with a general engineering consultant to complete the detailed design work needed to construct the Project.
  • The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization will resubmit the Project through NC DOT’s funding process. Under current state law, the project may receive up to 10% of its funding from the state.
  • GoTriangle, working together with its partners in Durham and Orange counties, will continue to advance the Project so that FTA is able to recommend federal funding by 2020.
  • The Funding and Community Collaborative – made up of leaders from local universities, health care institutions, government and the private sector – will continue working to support the project by helping to identify potential in-kind, land and monetary contributions from public and private partners.
  • The construction process is expected to begin in 2020, with service beginning in 2028.

Key Documents

D-O LRT Project Fly-Through Video

Information about Property Values around Light Rail Station

GoTriangle’s light rail project team makes every effort to provide up-to-date and personalized information to residents and neighborhoods along the D-O LRT Project. If you live in a neighborhood or own property close to a neighborhood that may be close to the D-O LRT Project, please reach out to a member of our public involvement staff at info@ourtransitfuture.com or 919.485.7572. Below are  some resources that were created for neighborhoods which requested meetings with the project team.

Downing Creek

Durham Regional Association of Realtors

Pope's Crossing

4/8/2016 Presentation to Neighborhood HOA
[53 pages | 17.6 MB | PDF]

Responses Questions Submitted 8/30/15
[13 pages | 418 KB | PDF]

Westgate Townes

4/26/16 Presentation to Neighborhood HOA
[26 pages | 2.98 MB | PDF]

In 2015, after hearing concerns about the proposed Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility (ROMF) GoTriangle hosted a community workshop to work with residents on potential design features of the facility.

Examples of Mitigation Measures for ROMFs
[47 Pages | 6.74 MB | PDF]

GoTriangle also organized a trip to the Charlotte Lynx Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF) to allow residents and elected officials to tour the Charlotte facility and ask questions of the Charlotte Lynx staff.

Charlotte Facility Tour Packet
[25 Pages | 4.38 MB | PDF]

As the D-O LRT Project advances engineering and design, there will be multiple opportunities to get updates on the project. Keep checking this page for upcoming public meetings.

You can also sign up to receive email notifications about the project using the sign-up form below.

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The D-O LRT Project is a 17.7-mile project that will provide over 26,000 trips per day to residents and commuters taking advantage of employment, healthcare and educational opportunities in Durham and Chapel Hill. The rail project will connect three of the top ten employers in the state (Duke University, UNC- Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care).

The light rail will provide:

  • 10-minute frequency during peak times, 20-minute frequency during off-peak times
  • Operate in a dedicated guideway, separate from traffic
  • Offer 18 stations, nine park-and-ride locations and connections to other transit services
  • Provide relief to 17 bus routes that currently serve portions of the corridor, allowing them to be rerouted to serve other areas of the community

This project will help control growth; foster compact development; create vibrant, walkable communities; and connect residents to jobs, healthcare and education opportunities. The light rail project will connect current and future transit services, including the Commuter Rail project and the Bus Rapid Transit project in Chapel Hill.

Durham and Orange Counties’ light rail project received approval from the Federal Transit Administration to advance into the Engineering phase of the federal Capital Investment Grant Program, on July 28, 2017.