Light Rail Frequently Asked Questions
Question #1 What is Our Transit Future?
“Our Transit Future” is GoTriangle’s long-range planning team. We work on major transit projects in Wake, Durham and Orange Counties and support other transit agencies, City and County staff and planners, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC-MPO) and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO).
Question #2 What is GoTriangle?
GoTriangle is a regional transit provider, which operates regional bus and shuttle service, paratransit services, ride-matching, vanpools; provides commuter resources, an emergency ride home program, and is home to the GoTransit Regional Information call center for the Triangle Region.
Question #3 What projects are you working on?
We are currently applying to enter the engineering phase for 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. ” For more information about the D-O LRT Project click here.
We are also working with Transportation Planning Advisory Committee (TPAC) to implement the projects in the Wake County Transit Plan process.
Question #1 Why do we need the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
In order to attract new residents and businesses and maintain a high quality of life, the region needs a multi-modal transportation system, including improved high-quality transit services. The D-O Corridor needs a long term solution that provides accessible transit service, and a competitive and reliable alternative to congested roadways; that seamlessly serves many popular destinations in Durham and Chapel Hill, and that fosters growth, compact development, and economic development along a high-capacity transportation network.
The Triangle has experienced extraordinary growth in recent years and growth forecasts continue to show the population increasing by 80 percent between 2010 and 2040; from 1.6 to 2.9 million. Within the Durham-Orange (D-O) Corridor, the population is projected to double and the highest expected travel intensity (number of trips per acre) in the Triangle region is predominately located in this corridor.
The region’s roadway network and transit systems are beginning to strain even under current demands. Levels of congestion are increasing and are anticipated to worsen, which will lead to increased travel times and sprawling development patterns. The region’s explosive growth is also outpacing the ability to repair, replace and expand the existing roadway network. Simply increasing highway capacity to meet these demands is not a viable option considering financial and environmental constraints.
The region’s existing transit network is currently operating at close to maximum capacity including 84 buses per hour servicing UNC Hospitals and 46 buses per hour servicing Duke University and Durham Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers. The combined bus routes that currently serve the D-O Corridor provide a high level of transit service, however, there are portions of the corridor within Chapel Hill and between Duke and downtown Durham where adding additional buses will not improve service due to congestion.
The D-O Corridor was identified as a high priority transit corridor as early as the 1990s due to the rapid growth in the corridor. The D-O Corridor includes the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), Duke University, downtown Durham, and North Carolina Central University.
Question #2 Why should we spend money on the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
The D-O LRT Project’s benefit include: improved mobility, increased connectivity through expanded transit options, and support of future development plans. Enhanced mobility will provide a competitive, reliable alternative to automobile use that supports compact development.
Enhanced mobility will also increase transit operating efficiency: offer a competitive, reliable transportation solution that will reduce travel time. Increased connectivity will expand transit options between Durham and Chapel Hill by enhancing and seamlessly connecting with the existing transit system.
Increased connectivity will serve major activity and employment centers between Durham and Chapel Hill, including: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), east Chapel Hill, US 15-501 Corridor, Duke West Campus, Duke and Durham Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, Duke East Campus, downtown Durham, and east Durham.
The D-O LRT Project will promote future development by supporting local land use plans that foster compact development by providing a transportation solution that supports compact development, promotes environmental stewardship, helps manage future growth, and maximizes the potential for economic development near activity centers.
Question #3 Why can’t we put more buses on the road?
Bus routes that currently service the D-O LRT Corridor alone carry an average of 9,700 passengers every weekday. Overall, Chapel Hill Transit, GoDurham, and GoTriangle’s services within Durham and Orange Counties carry 71,300 passengers per weekday. Transit ridership in Durham and Orange Counties has grown over the last few years, and is projected to grow in the future as the communities encourage the growth of walkable, pedestrian-friendly communities and the universities continue to grow and encourage transit use to their campuses.
Question #4 Why are you building this system? Why light rail?
The D-O LRT Project provides a high-capacity transit service within the D-O Corridor, (along Highway NC 54, I-40, US 15-501, Erwin Road, and NC 147), that improves mobility, increases connectivity through expanding transit options, and supports future development plans.
The D-O LRT Project will:
• Improve Mobility
o Enhance mobility: provide a competitive, reliable alternative to automobile use that supports compact development
o Increase transit operating efficiency: offer a competitive, reliable transportation solution that will reduce travel time
• Increase Connectivity
o Expand transit options between Durham and Chapel Hill: enhance and seamlessly connect with the existing transit system
o Serve major activity and employment centers between Durham and Chapel Hill: serve the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), east Chapel Hill, US 15-501 Corridor, Duke West Campus, Duke and Durham Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, Duke East Campus, downtown Durham, and east Durham
• Promote Future Development
o Support local land use plans that foster compact development,
o Provide a transportation solution that supports compact development, promotes environmental stewardship, helps manage future growth, and maximizes the potential for economic development near activity centers
The D-O Corridor supports the travel of residents, visitors, and employees to major activity and employment centers throughout the corridor. Population and employment projections for 2040 predict that these key activity centers will continue to generate a high number of trips. The highest number of trips is predicted to occur in the areas of UNC, UNC Hospitals, Leigh Village, Patterson Place, South Square, Duke University, Duke University Medical Center, Ninth Street, downtown Durham, and along Alston Avenue.
Light rail was chosen for the D-O Corridor because this technology will:
• Connect residential, educational, and major employment centers throughout the corridor;
• Serve the people in the D-O Corridor more cost-effectively in the long term than other transportation options;
• Efficiently serve a corridor with some of the highest projected trips per acre in the Triangle region;
• Support land use patterns that require closely spaced stops, best served by vehicles that are able to accelerate quickly;
• Provide solid anchors needed to shape land use along this critical corridor; and,
• Provide high-frequency rail service shown to support transit-oriented development (TOD) (ES-3).
Question #5 What is the big picture? Why does the D-O LRT Project make sense?
The population in the D-O corridor is projected to double by 2040, adding strain to the roadway network. The project will provide an alternative to traveling on congested roadways, and will maintain or improve transit travel times between existing and planned activity centers since light rail is not affected by increases in vehicular congestion.
Question #1 Are other transit technologies like Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) being considered for the Durham-Orange Corridor?
Other technologies are no longer being considered for the Durham-Orange Corridor.
Various transit technologies were previously studied and evaluated in an extensive public process called the “Alternatives Analysis” (AA) completed in 2011. Technologies considered during the AA included: conventional bus, BRT, Streetcar, Light Rail Transit (LRT), and Commuter Rail Transit (CRT). Through the Alternatives Analysis, light rail was selected as the best transit technology option to best serve the Durham-Orange Corridor and to meet the Purpose and Need of the proposed transit project. The Alternatives Analysis is available on ourtransitfuture.com in the library.
Other technologies are being used elsewhere in Durham and Orange County, such as the BRT Project in the North-South Corridor in Chapel Hill.
Question #2 What is Light Rail Transit?
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.
The light rail system will introduce a new technology and new set of policies and regulations for passenger safety. Passengers and personnel will be required to understand and adopt new policies and procedures to increase awareness for personal safety.
The light rail vehicles will be compliant with a number of requirements, codes, and other design criteria. These include, but are not limited to, tamper-resistant equipment, dependable/redundant communication networks, CCTV monitoring, intrusion alarm systems, and relevant fire, life, and safety requirements.
The safety of passengers and the public is the highest priority for GoTriangle. The proposed D-O LRT Project will be designed in accordance with all applicable federal, state, and local safety laws, regulations, and guidance. A detailed safety study will be performed during the Engineering phase for each at-grade light rail crossing locations in consultation with NCDOT and the applicable local jurisdictions.
Question #3 How is Light Rail Transit powered?
Light Rail is electrically powered. The LRT receives power through overhead electrical wires (known as “catenary”), which are supported by poles. The light rail vehicle makes contact with the overhead wire using a mechanism that is located on the roof of the light rail vehicle (known as the “pantograph”). The pantograph makes contact with the catenary to provide the electricity needed to power the light rail vehicle and propel it forward.
Question #4 Are Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) accessible for persons with disabilities?
Yes. Light rail vehicles are required by law to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Light rail vehicles feature level-boarding (where the interior floor of the train is level with the station platform). Level-boarding provides easy access for all individuals boarding the light rail train.
For individuals with visual impairments, raised lettering, high contrast colors, and Braille provide key information on signage. Audible announcements through public address systems at the light rail stations as well as on-board the vehicles provide information, such as train arrival, direction and the next station. Between-car-barriers, tactile warning strips, and the use of contrasting color will provide additional safety measures for individuals with visual impairments, both while waiting for and boarding the light rail train.
For individuals with hearing impairments, scrolling visual variable message displays will provide information at the light rail stations. While on-board the train, visual variable message displays will provide information about the current station and next station. Also, as light rail trains pull in to the stations, signage on the platforms will indicate the name of the station.
Question #5 Are LRVs safe?
In general, light rail transit is a very safe mode of transportation. InvFTA’s 2009 Rail Safety Statistics Report, crash rates for rail transit in the US ranged from 2.16 – 5.35 accidents per 100 million Passenger Miles for a six-year study period in that report. For comparison, statistics on motor vehicle crash rates are available from NCDOT at the following link: https://connect.ncdot.gov/resources/safety/pages/crash-data.aspx
Question #6 How fast can LRT travel?
Light rail trains can travel up to 55 miles per hour. Speeds vary based on conditions such as the location and curves of the tracks, the distance between stations, changes in grade and elevation, as well as the number of rail crossings. The D-O LRT Project’s average speed will be between 20-35 mph.
Question #7 What is a Traction Power Substation (TPSS)?
The proposed D-O LRT Project requires traction power substations (TPSS) at approximately one-mile intervals along the light rail alignment to supply electrical power. TPSSs do not generate electricity; rather, they change the electrical current to an appropriate level to power light rail vehicles. As engineering continues, GoTriangle will refine the locations of the TPSSs, you can review the proposed locations in Appendix L of the DEIS. Each TPSS would be in an enclosed structure and require approximately 0.03 acre of land.
Question #1 What is the process for building/approving the D-O LRT Project?
GoTriangle is following the Federal New Starts Program. GoTriangle completed Project Development in 2016 and is preparing to enter: Engineering.
Question #2 What happens next?
GoTriangle has submitted a request to enter the Engineering phase, and hopes to be accepted in early Spring 2017. During the Engineering phase GoTriangle will complete the final design of the proposed D-O LRT Project, secure final state funding sources, and begin property negotiation and acquisition.
Question #3 What happened in the Project Development Phase?
During Project Development GoTriangle completed:
• The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process, including completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
o Progressed engineering to sufficient to support the EIS and gain confident cost estimates
o Adopted the route and technology in the Long Range Transportation Plan of the DCHC-MPO
• Developed FTA rating measures
o Project Justification (Mobility improvement, cost effectiveness, congestion relief, land use, economic development, environmental benefits, etc.)
o Local Financial Commitment
Question #5 When will construction begin and when could I start riding?
GoTriangle anticipates beginning construction in 2020 and hopes to complete construction and being operations by 2028.
Environmental Impact Statement
Question #1 What is an EIS?
A Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is a requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for projects seeking federal action that may result in a significant effect on the quality of the human or natural environment. An EIS is a tool for decision making that describes the positive and negative environmental effects of a proposed action. It usually also lists one or more alternative actions that may be chosen instead of the action described in the EIS, and recommends mitigation of negative effects if certain actions are taken.
GoTriangle published the DEIS in August 2015. Stakeholder and public comments on the Draft EIS were addressed in the Final EIS published with the Record of Decision (ROD) in February 2016. The combined FEIS/ROD identified the selected alignment, station locations, and ROMF site; presented the basis for the decision; and provided information on the adopted means to avoid, minimize, and compensate for the anticipated impacts from the proposed D-O LRT Project.
Question #2 Has GoTriangle engaged any outside companies to study the environmental impact of this project?
Yes. URS/AECOM, a company, consulting with GoTriangle, prepared the technical information and environmental impact analysis associated with the information presented in the DEIS.
Where is the project located?
The proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project is located in central North Carolina within the Triangle region, which includes Durham, Orange, and Wake Counties. The project will extend approximately 17.7 miles from southwest Chapel Hill to east Durham, greatly expanding transit service between Durham and Orange Counties.
D-O LRT Project Map, current December, 2016.
Where will the project go/what will the project serve?
The proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail project will run on two sets of tracks (one for each direction of travel) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) campus (at the UNC Hospitals Station) to North Carolina Central University (NCCU) campus (at the NCCU Station). The proposed alignment connects residents to a range of educational, medical, and employment opportunities, including: UNC, UNC Hospitals, the Friday Center, Duke University, Durham VA and Duke University Medical Centers, downtown and east Durham. Expanded and enhanced bus services will link transit passengers to area destinations.
The activity centers within walking distance of the D-O LRT Project include:
• Major Universities: UNC Chapel Hill (UNC), Duke University and North Carolina Central University (NCCU)
• Major Medical Facilities: UNC Hospitals, Durham Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, and Duke University Medical Center
• Employment Centers: area hospitals and universities, mixed-use office and retail, including Patterson Place, South Square, the American Tobacco Campus, and downtown Durham
• Athletic Facilities: Dean E. Smith Center, Kenan Memorial Stadium, Finley Golf Course, and Durham Bulls Athletic Park (AAA baseball)
• Major Arts and Cultural Facilities: the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education (Friday Center), Sarah P. Duke Memorial Gardens, Carolina Theatre, Hayti Heritage Center and the Durham Performing Arts Center
• Major Transportation Hubs: Durham Station (intercity, local, and regional bus service) and the Durham Amtrak Station.
What are the hours of operation for the D-O LRT Project?
The D-O LRT Project will operate seven days a week. Monday through Saturday the train is proposed to operate from 5:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m (18.5 hours per day). On Sundays, the train will to operate from 6:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. (17.5 hours per day). GoTriangle may adjust the hours of operation in the future based on ridership demand. Trains will run at ten minute frequencies during peak hours (approx. 6:00-9:00 a.m. and 3:00-6:00 p.m.) and 20 minute frequencies during off-peak hours.
What is the end to end travel time?
The D-O LRT Project will travel from Chapel Hill (UNC Hospitals) to East Durham (NCCU) in about 46 minutes. As the design of the proposed project advances, engineers will be working to further refine the design to reduce the travel time from Chapel Hill to Durham, as practicable.
How many people will ride the D-O LRT Project?
GoTriangle forecasts an average of 26,000 weekday trips by 2040.
Who makes decisions about the project?
A number of decision makers weigh various factors to select the final D-O LRT alignment. The GoTriangle Board of Trustees is comprised of officials appointed by local jurisdictions and representatives from NC DOT.
Public involvement is continuous and ongoing throughout the entire decision making process.
Do trains have conductors?
Light Rail Vehicles are controlled by operators.
Does the weather affect the speed and dependability of the train?
Operating speeds of the trains are only adjusted in extreme weather conditions.
Question #1 How will the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project affect my neighborhood or home?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) evaluates and documents the potential environmental impacts of the proposed D-O LRT Project. GoTriangle committed to several mitigation measures in the FEIS where impacts were identified. Specific sections of the DEIS discuss impacts to neighborhoods such as roadway modifications (section, 3.2) parking (section 3.3), access, mobility, and community cohesion (section 4.3), visual and aesthetic impacts (section 4.4), noise and vibration impacts (section 4.10), acquisitions, relocations and displacements (section 4.14), utility impacts (section 4.15), anticipated construction impacts (section 4.16), and any potential indirect and cumulative impacts (section 4.17).
Question #2 How can construction for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project affect my neighborhood?
Although temporary in nature, construction impacts may affect neighborhoods and community facilities. Traffic detours may increase traffic through residential neighborhoods or change access to community facilities. Similarly, sidewalk closures and detours may affect pedestrian traffic patterns. Construction impacts such as increased levels of noise and dust may temporarily affect neighborhood character, primarily in relatively quiet areas. The presence of large construction equipment may be perceived as visually disruptive and cause temporary effects to community character, particularly in residential settings. Residences and community resources may also experience short-term disruptions of utility services during construction activities, as utilities need to be moved or replaced (section 220.127.116.11).
Measures to avoid and/or minimize adverse impacts to residences during project construction will include efforts to maintain traffic, parking, and access during construction, modify signage, install temporary directional signage, and provide advance communication of construction activities.
GoTriangle will conduct community education about construction-related activities and share outreach plans with local property owners. The D-O LRT Project Team will coordinate with emergency response personnel to maintain continuous access for emergency vehicles throughout the duration of construction.
Prior to construction, coordination with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Durham Public Schools will be implemented to identify potential impacts on school bus routes and appropriate temporary detour routes during construction (section 18.104.22.168).
Question #3 How can I see if my property may be affected by the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
The DEIS contains maps of the project and its associated impacts. GoTriangle has also developed a mapping tool that allows you to see the location of a property in relation to the proposed D-O LRT Project — please see http://ourtransitfuture.com/projects/durham-orange/interactive_dolrt_map/.
Question #1 What kind of impacts to community resources will the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project have?
DEIS section 4.3 discusses the impacts that proposed D-O LRT Project might have on neighborhoods with respect to community resources, and proposes mitigation measures.
Community cohesion effects are addressed by determining potential disruption in the interaction among people and groups within a community, the use of community resources, residential stability, and length of time residents have resided in the community. Community facility effects are assessed by determining whether there are property impacts or changes in access or parking that would affect community resources.
Question #1 How will the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project affect my business?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) evaluates and documents the potential environmental impacts of the proposed D-O LRT Project during construction as well as operation. An analysis of the potential for impacts to businesses within the project corridor is included throughout the document. Where impacts are identified, the DEIS proposes mitigation measures. Specific sections of the DEIS discuss impacts to businesses such as roadway modifications (section, 3.2) parking (section 3.3), access, mobility, and community cohesion (section 4.3), visual and aesthetic impacts (section 4.4), noise and vibration impacts (section 4.10), acquisitions, relocations and displacements (section 4.14), utility impacts (section 4.15), anticipated construction impacts (section 4.16), and any potential indirect and cumulative impacts (section 4.17).
If acquisitions and relocations are required, these acquisitions and relocations will be conducted in accordance with the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (see acquisitions section below). Prior to and during construction of the D-O LRT Project, representatives of GoTriangle will meet with property owners that may be impacted to review construction sequencing, staging, access, visibility and related issues that may impact their businesses.
Question #2 How will construction for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project affect my business?
Construction impacts are discussed in DEIS section 4.16. Businesses could expect activities to be temporarily affected by changes in customer access, on-street parking availability, service access, traffic flow, business visibility, and congestion during construction activities. Depending on the intensity and duration of construction activities, businesses dependent on ease of customer access may experience a loss of revenue during this time. In general, retail businesses such as restaurants and shops that rely on walk-up and drive-up customers are most affected by traffic, parking, and access disruption. Businesses such as medical offices that operate by appointment only are usually less disrupted, although they still may be impacted if access and/or parking are removed. Businesses that typically do not have customers on the premises, call-centers for example, are least impacted by traffic and access disruption during construction. Businesses with outdoor activities such as outdoor dining or outdoor storage of products or materials could experience negative impacts due to noise, dust, or other nuisance conditions during nearby construction activities. Businesses that rely on providing customers with a quiet atmosphere (e.g., restaurants, spa services, and libraries) may be affected during construction activities. Businesses may experience short-term disruptions of utility services during construction activities if utilities need to be moved or replaced (section 22.214.171.124).
Measures to avoid and/or minimize adverse impacts to businesses during project construction will include efforts to maintain traffic, parking, and access during construction, modify business signage to maintain business visibility, use marketing campaigns to advise patrons of required construction in areas with multiple businesses, install temporary directional signage, and provide advance communication of construction activities.
Temporary arrangements for safe pedestrian access will be addressed in the construction documents. Site specific business and access management plans will also be developed (section 126.96.36.199). Prior to and during construction of the D-O LRT Project, representatives of GoTriangle will meet with property owners that may be impacted to review construction sequencing, staging, access, visibility and related issues that may impact their businesses.
Question #1 Will Triangle Transit acquire private property for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
GoTriangle will consider all other alternatives before selecting property to be acquired. Local, state, and federal regulations and laws govern the acquisition of private property for public use. These laws ensure that owners of property acquired for public projects are treated fairly and consistently. They are designed to encourage and expedite acquisition by agreements with property owners, to minimize litigation and relieve congestion in the courts, and to promote public confidence in land acquisition programs designed to benefit the public as a whole.
Question #2 How will GoTriangle go about acquiring property? What is the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act?
The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Polices Act of 1970 provides for uniform and equitable treatment of persons displaced from their homes, businesses, or farms by federal and federally-assisted programs, and establishes uniform and equitable land acquisition policies. Federal regulations implementing the Uniform Act (49 CFR Part 24) establish the process that must be followed.
Question #3 How will the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project affect my property values?
Many communities across the country are implementing or extending light rail transit systems because of the long term value and opportunities which they bring to businesses, home owners, and people of all generations living, working, learning, and traveling along light rail corridors. Studies of light rail projects around the country have shown a positive impact on properties within 1/4 to 1 mile of a station, closest to the improved transportation service. Nationwide, in a synthesis of 12 studies around the country, residential property value premiums of 3%-40% were observed in rail station areas. In Charlotte, a study of single-family home prices indicated increased value of properties close to light rail stations relative to properties farther from stations after opening of the LYNX Blue Line light rail.
GoTriangle has looked at several studies regarding property values nationwide. Our summaries for those issues are here:
• Property Value Studies Summary [2 pages | PDF | 283 KB] • Property Values around the Charlotte Vehicle Maintenance Facility [5 pages | PDF | 988 KB]
More information can be found at https://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/bridges/winter-20032004/lightrail-transit-myths-and-realities and at http://uli.org/infrastructure-initiative/uli-research-roundup-the-impact-of-transit-on-property-values/. A study published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use found an overall positive impact on the value of single-family homes along Charlotte first light rail line; see https://www.jtlu.org/index.php/jtlu/article/download/261/242.
Question #1 Can I take the bus to get on the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
Along with the introduction of the proposed D-O LRT Project, GoTriangle will work with other service providers to implement bus service changes for GoDurham and Chapel Hill Transit routes in the corridor. Some changes may include:
– Introduction of new feeder bus routes
– Modifications to the background bus network
– Elimination of duplicative bus service
Proposed changes to the bus network for the NEPA Preferred and Project Element Alternatives are listed and described in more detail in appendix K.1. Many existing bus routes would connect to light rail stations with little or no change to route alignments (section 2.4.3).
Prior to revenue service GoTriangle will work with service planning staff from GoDurham Chapel Hill Transit, and Duke Transit to develop and implement a plan to integrate bus and rail service within the D-O Corridor. As part of the process the transit providers will engage the public and complete a Transit Service and Fare Equity Analysis (section 3.1.4).
Question #2 Can I walk or use my bike to get to the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
GoTriangle will work with the Town of Chapel Hill, City of Durham, NCDOT, and local advocates to identify the potential for off-street facilities or on-street facilities on parallel or nearby roadways. Pedestrian crossings of light rail tracks will be designed in accordance with current ADA design requirements to ensure access and mobility for all users. New pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure would be installed in station areas to augment the existing network. Station areas would be designed according to best management practices for bicycle and pedestrian safety. Measures would be taken to discourage pedestrians from crossing the tracks outside of designated track crossings and to enhance safety at permitted crossing locations.
Section 3.6 of the DEIS contains additional details on plans for future bicycle and pedestrian access. Sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, and other pedestrian infrastructure that the light rail alignment would affect would be rebuilt or enhanced as depicted in the Basis for Engineering Design (appendix L).
Question #3 Can I bring my bike on the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
Bicycles will be allowed on board the light rail vehicles (LRVs). At this time, GoTriangle expects that each vehicle will have capacity for four bicycles. Trains will run initially as either single-vehicle or two-vehicle trains, so each train would have capacity for either four or eight bicycles. Operational decisions about the use of space in the LRV will be made during the Engineering Phase.
Question #4 Where will I be able to park to access the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
Park-and-ride facilities are currently planned at the following stations:
– Friday Center Station
– Leigh Village Station
– Gateway Station
– MLK Jr. Parkway Station
– South Square Station
– Durham Station
– Dillard Street Station
– Alston Avenue Station
Parking fees, if any, will be determined by the GoTriangle Board of Trustees.
Question #1 Why are stations located where they are?
Station locations were chosen based upon the access to economic, educational, cultural, and medical facilities, and in areas designated for future development along the Durham-Orange Corridor. The station alternatives were evaluated based on their ability to meet the project’s Purpose and Need.
Question #2 Can bus service be expanded or improved with the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
Enhancements to bus service are part of the Durham County and Orange County Bus and Rail Investment Plans (BRIPs). Both BRIPs were developed and approved by county commissioners before the successful sales tax referenda in 2011 and 2012, and both have guided the provision of new bus service in the two counties over the past few years. For more information about provisions for improved bus service under the BRIPs, please see http://ourtransitfuture.com/durham-county-bus-and-rail-investment-plan/.
Revenue from the half-cent sales tax in Durham County for public transportation is being used to fund project development for the proposed D-O LRT Project and to implement improvements to GoDurham, Chapel Hill Transit and Orange Public Transportation bus services. In addition, the sales tax will be used to support the design and construction of Neighborhood Transit Centers and make improvements to bus stops and pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure along Transit Emphasis Corridors in Durham. When the light rail opens, funds for bus services made redundant by rail operations will also be used to improve the transit network across Durham to newly opened rail stations.
GoTriangle will work with service planning staff from GoDurham, Chapel Hill Transit, and Duke Transit to develop and implement a plan to integrate bus and rail service within the D-O Corridor. As part of the process the transit providers will engage the public and complete a Transit Service and Fare Equity Analysis (section 3.1.4).
Question #3 How will you ensure that funding and service is equitably spread throughout the community?
The D-O LRT Project will improve both the travel time and the reliability of the transit service within the D-O Corridor. The project will connect the major activity centers and communities along the D-O Corridor and would provide improved access to employment, health care, and educational opportunities; as well as, cultural, recreational, entertainment, open space, retail, and governmental resources. A Service and Fare Equity Analysis will be completed before the project opens, in accordance with the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
If the D-O LRT Project is built, it is expected that it will be funded by a combination of federal, state, and local funds. Dedicated local funding for bus and rail transit investments was identified when citizens of both Durham and Orange counties passed referenda to increase sales taxes to support transit improvements. (Effective April 1, 2013, Durham and Orange counties adopted resolutions to levy an additional one-half cent local sales tax to be used only for public transportation systems.)
Established federal and regional funding sources means no one group in the D-O Corridor or the region would receive a disproportionate share of the financial burden of the capital and operating and maintenance costs relative to the benefits received.
Pursuant to the Orange County and Durham County Bus-Rail Integration Plans, an adequate share of local sales tax funds is being dedicated to the cost of the LRT system.
Question #1 How much will the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project cost?
The D-O LRT will cost approximately $2.476 billion (Year-of-Expenditure, with financing costs) to build and between $17 and $20 million per year to operate and maintain.
Question #2 What are capital costs?
Capital costs are considered to be one-time costs for the proposed transit project. The capital cost includes things like: the construction of stations, station platforms, and station elements like shelters, ticketing machines, lighting, and signage; the light rail tracks and associated structures like bridges; construction and implementation of the systems and technologies that are necessary to support and operate the light rail, including overhead wires, supporting poles, train signal systems, protective safety gates and warning systems at -grade crossings, substations necessary to maintain a constant level of power throughout the wires, as well as the technology systems to communicate with the light rail vehicles.
Also included in capital cost is the cost to purchase transit vehicles as well as the cost to construct a rail operations maintenance facility (ROMF), which is necessary to maintain the light rail system. In addition, professional services like the cost to design, engineer, inspect, and insure the Project are also included in capital cost.
Question #3 What are operations and maintenance costs?
In addition to capital cost, each alternative has recurring costs for ongoing operations and maintenance (O & M) of the rail line and the light rail vehicle fleet (e.g., employee salaries, electricity, parts). These costs are quantified on an annual basis.
Question #4 How will we pay for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
When the proposed D-O LRT Project is fully advanced through the New Starts process, the project should receive 50% of the D-O LRT Project’s capital cost from the Federal Transit Administration. A combination of funding sources make up the other 50%, including: funding from North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) (10%); sales tax revenue generated in Durham and Orange counties, other local fees and taxes dedicated for transit services (40%). Leaders from our local governments, universities, health care centers and businesses are working with GoTriangle to identify additional sources of local funding to contribute to the D-O LRT Project.
Question #5 How will the annual operating and maintenance costs be paid?
Annual operating and maintenance costs will be paid for with revenue from fares, sales tax revenue generated in Durham and Orange counties, funding from North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), and other local fees and taxes dedicated for transit services.
Question #6 Has funding been secured for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
When the D-O LRT Project is fully advanced through the New Starts process, The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will provide approximately 50% of the D-O LRT Project’s capital cost.
We expect the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC DOT) to contribute 10% of the total project cost. In 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly capped available state funding for light rail at 10% of the project’s cost, as opposed to the 25% that was previously awarded to two similar projects in Charlotte. GoTriangle is hoping to resubmit the D-O LRT Project in later state funding prioritizations.
The remainder of the funding will be covered by a combination of sources, including sales tax revenue generated in Durham and Orange counties, and other local fees and taxes dedicated for transit services.
Leaders from our local governments, universities, health care centers and businesses are working with GoTriangle to make Durham and Orange Counties’ transit goals a reality. A Funding and Community Collaborative is working with GoTriangle to help secure additional funding for the project through: right-of-way donations from public and private partners and seeking funds from private entities, endowments, and foundations.
Question #7 How will the annual operating and maintenance costs be paid?
The financial plan for the D-O LRT Project includes funding for the annual operations and maintenance of the Project. These costs will be paid from a combination of sources, including: fares collected, revenues from the half-cent sales tax, and other local fees and taxes dedicated for transit services.
Question #8 How will the project proceed if Federal funding does not meet the actual cost of the project?
When fully advanced through the New Starts Process, GoTriangle will enter into a full funding grant agreement (FFGA) with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The FFGA will specify the funding amount FTA will disperse toward the project and other sources of funding that are committed to the Project. An FFGA will not be signed and construction will not begin if the Project does not have all of the funding committed.
Question #9 How much money has GoTriangle spent so far?
For more information about expenditures and revenues, please see GoTriangle’s Annual Bus and Rail Investment Reports.
Question #10 What are the fares and parking fees for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
The proposed D-O LRT Project’s fares will likely be comparable to the bus fares that are in effect at that time. Both parking fees and bus fares will be set by the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees. As noted in DEIS section 2.3.1., transit patrons would purchase rides prior to boarding from ticket vending machines located at each station. Both parking fees and bus fares will be set by the GoTriangle Board of Trustees.
The existing cost to park at transit park and rides as well as the cost to ride the existing transit services are noted in the DEIS: Chapter 188.8.131.52 Transit Providers.
Question #11 Why should we spend money on the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
The benefits of the D-O LRT Project include: improved mobility, increased connectivity through expanded transit options, and support of future development plans. Enhanced mobility will provide a competitive, reliable alternative to automobile use that supports compact development.
Enhanced mobility will also increase transit operating efficiency: offer a competitive, reliable transportation solution that will reduce travel time. Increased connectivity will expand transit options between Durham and Chapel Hill by enhancing and seamlessly connecting with the existing transit system.
In addition, increased connectivity will serve major activity and employment centers between Durham and Chapel Hill: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), east Chapel Hill, US 15-501 Corridor, Duke West Campus, Duke and Durham Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, Duke East Campus, downtown Durham, and east Durham.
The D-O LRT Project will promote future development by supporting local land use plans that foster compact development by providing a transportation solution that supports compact development, promotes environmental stewardship, helps manage future growth, and maximizes the potential for economic development near activity centers.
Question #1 Why is the C2A alignment included in the NEPA Preferred Alternative for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
The evaluation of the NEPA Preferred Alternative and all Project Element Alternatives are included in the DEIS and are summarized in DEIS chapter 8, Evaluation of Alternatives.
In summary, the C1 Alternative would impact undisturbed natural areas and introduce a new transportation corridor on USACE land. In a letter from USACE dated January 7, 2015, the USACE stated that a request to use government property for the C1 Alternative “would not be authorized considering the availability of other less environmentally damaging alternatives.” USACE reaffirmed that it would not authorize the C1 Alternative in a letter dated May 20, 2015 (appendix G).
The C1A Alternative has the longest length of the Little Creek Alternatives. As a result, it has the longest travel times and least ridership of the Little Creek Alternatives. In terms of impacts to the natural environment, the C1A Alternative would impact undisturbed forested areas and wetlands associated with Little Creek.
The C2 alternative has more impacts to public parklands, natural resources, vibration impacts, and more acquisitions and displacements than the C2A alternative.
Question #2 Can the D-O LRT Project run along the north side of NC-54 after serving the Friday Center?
This alignment concept was evaluated. It was determined that it would not complement the future land use plans of the Town of Chapel Hill adjacent to the Woodmont Station.
Question #3 Can the D-O LRT Project be elevated over Downing Creek Parkway?
Traffic and site characteristics do not warrant grade separation at this location. GoTriangle will work with the residents who use Downing Creek Parkway to address safety and operational concerns as the project moves forward.
Between Durham and Wake County
Question #1 Will the D-O LRT Project connect to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport in the future?
The D-O LRT Project is not planned to directly serve RDU Airport.
RDU is critical to our region’s economic prosperity and is our gateway to the world. RDU was a valued partner in the development of the Wake County Transit Plan and will continue to work with our local leaders to determine how they can be best served by transit. GoTriangle recently launched its most significant airport service expansion in over 10 years. GoTriangle Route 100 currently serves Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 with buses 7 am – 11 pm Monday – Saturday, and 7 am – 5pm on Sunday.
Question #2 How will the D-O LRT Project accommodate residents commuting between RTP, Raleigh, Cary and Chapel Hill?
Hundreds of commuters to UNC from RTP, Morrisville, Cary, and Raleigh already park and ride today at parking lots at Southpoint Mall, Exit 282 off of I-40 at the Regional Transit Center, and at District Drive in Raleigh.
The light rail, with park-and-ride lots and bus transfer facilities at the Leigh Village and Gateway stations, will offer a higher level of frequency than these routes and will not be subject to traffic congestion in the future when traffic is worse.
Question # What services are there for residents commuting to and from Wake County?
In 2016, Wake County voters approved a referendum on their ballot for a half-cent sales tax that will be dedicated to fund the plan that includes building a 37-mile Commuter Rail Transit Line from Garner to Durham, with stops in Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, and the Research Triangle Park and stronger regional bus service connections between Wake, Durham and Orange counties. For more information, visit waketransit.com
Question #1 What will the Alston Avenue station area plan look like? How will it integrate with bus service?
You can view the latest plans for the Alston Avenue station area in Appendix C of the Supplemental Environmental Assessment for the NCCU Station Refinement . The development of the concepts include a preliminary analysis of the appropriate locations for all station elements, including bus transfer.
Question #2 What are future plans to expand to Northern Durham?
The Bus and Rail Investment Plan for Durham County describes future transit plans for Durham County. Currently the City of Durham has planned improvements to bus stop amenities and GoTriangle is planning to develop a park-and-ride lot.
Question #1 Will the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project extend to have a station in Carrboro or Chatham County?
An extension of the D-O LRT Project to downtown Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Chatham are not currently planned. Future extensions would be considered in updates to the local transit plans.
Question #1 How many stations are proposed for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
The D-O LRT Project will have 18 stations
Question #2 Who will maintain stations for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
GoTriangle will be responsible for administering station upkeep and maintenance.
Question #3 Can a station be added closer to DPAC and American Tobacco?
In response to comments received, GoTriangle is evaluating the feasibility of an additional station along Pettigrew Street between Blackwell and Mangum Street.
Question #1 What is a ROMF?
A ROMF is a Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility where the light rail vehicles (LRVs) are stored and maintained.
The ROMF is an integral part of the D-O LRT Project, serving as the base of operations for the Light Rail staff. The ROMF is currently designed to include office space, conference rooms, and areas to store, service, and maintain LRVs The ROMF would also hold equipment needed to maintain the stations and trackway.
Question #2 Why wasthe Farrington Road ROMF site chosen?
The Farrington Road ROMF was the most desirable site from a construction and operations standpoint. The Farrington Road ROMF site is located on a long straight section of track which accommodates cross-overs for access to the yard. The site is reasonably flat, making preparation of the site for construction easier. Effective screening buffers can be provided around the site.
Question #3 Will the site along Farrington Road be rezoned as an industrial site as a result of locating the ROMF there?
GoTriangle will work with the the City and County of Durham to determine the appropriate zoning for the ROMF site and is expected to go through the rezoning process. The City and County of Durham will place conditions on the approvals that appropriate mitigation measures are included in the design, including strategies to complement the surrounding context such as use of architectural styles and/or landscape design.
GoTriangle will continue to coordinate with property owners and residents near the site to develop and refine mitigation measures for this site. The public will also have the opportunity to comment on the design through a public hearing as part of the City and/or County approval process.
Question #1 What type of security will be provided at stations for the D-O LRT Project?
GoTriangle’s System Security and Emergency Preparedness Plan will provide a framework for ensuring passenger and employee safety on GoTriangle property and leased facilities.
GoTriangle uses Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts to assist in deterring criminal activity in the design of its facilities. The basic principle of CPTED is to increase natural surveillance by providing good sight-lines and avoiding conditions such as tall landscaping that could potentially provide individuals with areas to hide or obstruct mechanical methods of surveillance, such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
Various security and emergency management issues that a light rail system typically must address through design include: system surveillance, evidence collection, and storage (e.g., CCTV surveillance systems); access controls including credentialing, perimeter fencing, security authorizations, intrusion alarms, and background checks; security design of physical system elements such as facilities, vehicles, aerial structures, pedestrian tunnels, catenary, control centers, etc.; use of security technologies such as facial recognition software and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA); security awareness training and security policies; crime; planning for emergency situations; and, providing familiarization training to external police departments and other emergency providers on safely engaging with the system such as how to deal with power systems (e.g., de-energizing power systems) and general equipment (e.g., manually opening vehicle doors and instructions to safety knock out windows).
GoTriangle will consult with local law enforcement and other public agencies to design the project’s public facilities to maximize the safety and security of light rail patrons and the transit system’s employees.
CCTV cameras will be placed on every platform and in park- and-ride facilities. Blue light emergency phones will be available at regular intervals on station platforms and in park-and-ride locations. The ticket vending machines will contain passenger assistance telephones to link passengers with a central control center. Security will be provided using roving patrols along the corridor, at stations, and at the proposed park-and-ride facilities. Each station platform will be equipped with a public notification system.
Question #2 How will at-grade crossing be made safe for the D-O LRT Project?
The D-O LRT Project would include approximately 25-30 elevated light rail crossings over existing roadways. (section 4.16.2).
To avoid the potential for incidents at at-grade intersections, crossings would be signalized or equipped with gates with bells to warn of oncoming trains. The trains will also have bells and horns. Bells, gates, and horns would be activated according to GoTriangle operating procedures and safety guidelines.
Question #3 How do crossing gates know when to lower?
The light rail vehicle will have a signaling system where the gate arms and warning devices are triggered by the approaching train.
Question #4 How will criminal activity be discouraged or prevented around the D-O LRT Project’s facilites?
The proposed D-O LRT Project would be designed and operated in accordance with GoTriangle’s current safety and security plans. These plans would be updated and , submitted to FTA and the NCDOT State Safety Oversight process for approval prior to revenue service.
GoTriangle uses Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts to assist in deterring criminal activity in the design of its facilities. CPTED increases natural surveillance by providing good sight-lines and avoiding conditions such as tall landscaping that could potentially provide individuals with areas to hide or obstruct mechanical methods of surveillance, such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
Question #5 What security methods will be provided for the ROMF for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
The ROMF site will be secured around the perimeter.
As noted in DEIS section 184.108.40.206, the various security and emergency management issues that a light rail system typically must address through design include: system surveillance, evidence collection, and storage (e.g., CCTV surveillance systems); access controls including credentialing, perimeter fencing, security authorizations, intrusion alarms, and background checks; security design of physical system elements such as facilities, vehicles, aerial structures, pedestrian tunnels, catenary, control centers, etc.; use of security technologies such as facial recognition software and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA); security awareness training and security policies; crime; planning for emergency situations; and, providing familiarization training to external police departments and other emergency providers on safely engaging with the system such as how to deal with power systems (e.g., de-energizing power systems) and general equipment (e.g., manually opening vehicle doors and instructions to safety knock out windows)
Question #6 What kind of safety and security measures will be implemented during construction for the D-O LRT Project?
North Carolina and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for safety of construction site personnel would be maintained during construction. Where practicable, construction site access would be limited by fencing and security gates to prevent inadvertent access by those without authorized clearance. Additional information regarding safety and security is presented in DEIS section 4.12.
The safety of the public, particularly the passage of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other spectators near open excavations and other construction activity, will be addressed through the creation, and placement of protective safety programs, public information efforts, and selected protective measures.
Applicable safety and security precautions will be specified in the Safety and Security Management Plan (SSMP) and Safety and Emergency Preparedness Plan (SEPP) and will be overseen by GoTriangle in cooperation with local law enforcement and emergency response personnel. The D-O LRT Project Team will provide construction barriers and fencing to secure construction sites and staging areas, and evaluate the need for additional security measures such as guards, if needed.
Question #1 Did you study traffic impacts?
DEIS section 3.2 discusses the impact of the D-O LRT Project on the existing roadway network and any measures recommended to mitigate such impacts. Additional information is also included as Appendix K.4 through K.11 of the DEIS.
Question #2 What will you do about congestion caused by D-O LRT Project?
Mitigation measures for congestion caused by this project are included in the Combined FEIS/ ROD Table 1 (PDF page 32). As described in DEIS (section 3.2.2), there are numerous roadway projects planned by the NC DOT in the vicinity of the D-O LRT Project. During Engineering, GoTriangle will continue to coordinate with the NCDOT as the designs of these projects advance.
As described in DEIS section 3.2.4 and as shown in Table 3.2-5, substantial modifications to roadways are incorporated into the design including additional turn bays and restriping of intersection approaches to accommodate additional receiving lanes in order to minimize impacts to vehicular traffic operations (excessive delays and queues).
Where additional roadway expansion is not recommended, additional traffic analyses will be performed during the Engineering phase of the project and the proposed roadway modifications may be refined.
In coordination with stakeholders and the public during the development of this DEIS, the areas detailed in section 220.127.116.11 (NC 54), 18.104.22.168 (US 15-501), 22.214.171.124 (Erwin Road) and 126.96.36.199 (Downtown Durham) were identified for further study and potential refinement during the Engineering phase.
Question #3 Do trains cross the road at the same time?
During operations, light rail vehicles will not be timed to cross at-grade crossings simultaneously. There will be 12 trains per hour during peak service (six per direction, 5:30 to 9:00am and 3:30 to 7:00 pm) and 6 trains per hour during non-peak times. Traffic can be disrupted/blocked due to gate activation for approximately 30 seconds per crossing.
Traffic would not be obstructed during approximately 90% of an hour during peak hours.
Question #6 How long does it take for the crossing gates to lower, the train to pass and the gates to rise again?
For the gate to begin descending, come fully down ahead of the train, the Light Rail to pass, and the gates to ascend takes between 30 and 40 seconds depending on the location of the at-grade crossing.
Question #7 How does GoTriangle plan to widen Erwin road?
Specific details about this widening is available in the Basis for Engineering drawings in DEIS Appendix L – Volume 2 Segment E:[/toggler
Question #1 Will the D-O LRT Project have noise and vibration impacts?
DEIS Section 4.10.4 and Table 4.10-6 provide a summary of the noise and vibration impacts for the alternatives. The D-O LRT Project, it is anticipated that a severe noise impact would occur at one location, moderate noise impacts would occur at four locations, vibration impacts would occur at 8 locations, and ground-borne noise impacts would occur at 13 locations. The ROMF would cause noise or vibration impacts. Additional detail on the impacted receptors is provided in appendix K.24.
Noise and vibration levels are estimated for the proposed D-O LRT Project and compared to the thresholds defined in the FTA Transit Noise and Vibration Impact Assessment (2006) manual. Noise and vibration projections take into account the operations of the proposed light rail including the speed of the trains, headways, train consists, the use of audible warning devices, and the track design including at-grade crossings, special track work (crossovers and turnouts), track curvature, adjustments for elevated guideways, terrain, building rows, and other features that may affect sound propagation conditions. Other sources included in the projections are noise from park-and-ride facilities, traction power sub-stations, and noise and vibration from the ROMF.
Question #2 What kind of engine will the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project’s Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) have? What kind of noise do they produce?
Light rail vehicles are powered by overhead electric catenary wires and are powered using electric motors that are self-contained within each vehicle. DEIS Table 4.10-1 identifies some of the most common noises generated by light rail operations.
Sound levels are measured in decibels (dBA). At fifty feet away from a person, the sound of a city bus would measure 84 dBA and a heavy truck would measure 90 dBA. The sound of light rail vehicles would be 66 dBA at that same distance. Comparatively, conversational speech is about 60 dBA.
Question #3 Will the horns or bells on light rail vehicles be used?
While the train will be equipped with bells and horns, bells, gates, and horns would be activated according to GoTriangle’s operating procedures and safety guidelines. At this time, horns are not proposed to be used on light-rail vehicles as part of regular operating procedures.
Bells are used when a light rail vehicle is approaching a station platform, when the doors open, and at grade crossings with gates. GoTriangle will coordinate design and policies related to audible warning devices with NCDOT and local jurisdictions in accordance with applicable regulations, guidance, municipal policies, and best management practices.
Question #1 What kind of economic development should be expected because of the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
New development around the planned stations is projected to create tens of thousands of new jobs and add $175 million in annual state and local tax revenue. Local land use plans call for focused, compact development to manage and channel future growth to light rail station areas that can efficiently support the growth and promote economic development.
The transit line will serve three of the top ten employers in the state: Duke University and Medical Center, the University of North Carolina, and UNC Healthcare. In addition, it will provide direct access to employers, services, entertainment, and local businesses in Durham’s rapidly growing downtown.
Project construction is projected to create from 2,700 to 2,800 direct and indirect jobs per year over a five-year construction period.
Question #2 How many employees will work at the proposed Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility?
Based on peer transit systems, the number of employees who would report to work at the ROMF would be between 110 and 175.
Question #3 How might development change because of the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
The D-O LRT Project is not expected to increase or decrease population, households, or employment, however, local land use plans may shift and focus where growth occurs. It is reasonable to expect that population, households, and employment growth would be more concentrated near LRT stations if the D-O LRT Project is constructed. The D-O LRT Project would serve as a spine to link the residential growth with new employment opportunities in the D-O Corridor.
The proposed station areas will serve approximately 53,000 residents or 25,800 households, and employment of 119,100, in 2040. The project would also serve over 13,000 transit dependent persons living within ½-mile of the stations, as well as limited English population of over 2,600.
Question #1 Will the D-O LRT Project have visual impacts?
Section 4.4 in the DEIS discusses visual impacts.
New visual elements may include:
• The light rail vehicles and trackway;
• station platforms; sidewalks, ramps or pedestrian bridges;
• the overhead catenary system that powers the electric light rail vehicles;
• Traction Power Substations (TPSS), communications cabinets, signal houses, and crossing cases;
• existing right-of-way modifications;
• bridges and retaining walls; park-and-ride lots; parking decks;
• and the ROMF.
Question #2 What kind of mitigations are there for visual impacts?
DEIS Section 188.8.131.52, lists locations where visual impacts occur
Planting appropriate vegetation in and adjoining the project right-of-way, replanting remainder parcels, and providing landscaping and aesthetic treatments when in close proximity to residences with aerial structures are three of the potential mitigation options that are proposed for affected areas.
Question #3 Who will maintain stations and other proposed D-O LRT Project facilities?
GoTriangle will be responsible for administering station upkeep and maintenance.
Question #4 How tall are the catenary wires (the wires from which the LRVs receive power)?
The catenary wires will vary between 13.5 feet and 18 feet in height.
Question #1 How is affordable housing factored into the planning process for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project?
FTA prioritizes affordable housing as a factor which can make the project more competitive for federal funds. There is also a commitment made as part of the local tax referendum to research and plan affordable housing along the project corridor. GoTriangle is developing affordable housing data to assist it in working with potential partners on affordable housing.
Question #2 How will the D-O LRT Project impact existing and future land use plans?
DEIS Section 4.1 describes land use and land use policy in the D-O Corridor and the potential impacts of the alternatives under study in the DEIS. Population and employment data related to land uses are presented in DEIS section 4.2.
Over the past decade, Chapel Hill and Durham have either adopted, or are in the process of adopting, transit-supportive zoning districts that will be applied in station areas. Both Chapel Hill and Durham have zoning in place that is designed to support Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in the corridor. This includes associated parking requirements for new development and re-development in and around station areas. Station locations were chosen to be consistent with local planning efforts. Changes in land use falls under the jurisdiction of the local governments.
Transit-supportive growth and development is expected to continue throughout the corridor due largely to positive market forces, supportive land use policies, and capacity for growth and supportive public investments.
Question #3 What are “compact neighborhoods”?
Under the Durham City/County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), the Compact Neighborhood tier was developed to facilitate transit-oriented development and establishes the policy foundation for a compact district that includes a mix of uses and is pedestrian friendly.
Currently, Compact Neighborhoods have been designed around the Duke Medical Center, Ninth Street, and Alston Avenue Stations. The comprehensive plan directs the Durham City-County Planning Department to convert the other light rail station areas (LaSalle, South Square/MLK, Patterson Place, and Leigh Village) into Compact Neighborhoods and apply Compact Design zoning through a Compact Neighborhood plan.
Further information about the Compact Neighborhood destination is available from the Durham City-County Planning Department.
Question #1 What kind of construction impacts will D-O LRT Project have?
Although temporary in nature, construction phase impacts may affect neighborhoods and community facilities. Traffic detours may increase traffic through residential neighborhoods or change access to community facilities. Similarly, sidewalk closures and detours may affect pedestrian traffic patterns. Construction impacts such as increased levels of noise and dust may temporarily affect neighborhood character, primarily in relatively quiet areas. The presence of large construction equipment may be perceived as visually disruptive and cause temporary effects to community character, particularly in residential settings. Residences and community resources may also experience short-term disruptions of utility services during construction activities, as utilities need to be moved or replaced.
Measures to avoid and/or minimize adverse impacts to residences during project construction will include efforts to maintain traffic, parking, and access during construction, modify business signage to maintain business visibility, use marketing campaigns to advise patrons of required construction in areas with multiple businesses, install temporary directional signage, and provide advance communication of construction activities. Local property owners will be informed of roadway disruptions and other construction-related activities and consequences by using construction education and outreach plans. The D-O LRT Project team will coordinate with emergency response personnel to maintain continuous access for emergency vehicles throughout the duration of construction. Prior to construction, coordination with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Durham Public Schools will be implemented to identify potential impacts on school bus routes and appropriate temporary detour routes during construction.
Question #1 Where can I find more detailed information about ridership modeling to supplement the documentation in the Travel Demand Methodology and Results Report (DEIS Appendix K.02?
Answer: The link below includes documentation on the Triangle Regional Model (TRM) V5 as it was deployed for the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) by the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO).
This model serves as the basis for the travel demand modeling performed for the DEIS as explained in DEIS section 3.1, Public Transportation, and DEIS appendix K.02, Travel Demand Methodology and Results Report.
In the documentation, particularly pertaining to items such as Alternative-Specific Effects, the methodology differs from the modeling work described in the DEIS for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project. This is because the TRM is only capable of applying one set of Alternative-Specific Effects for all individual fixed guideway transit projects in the model at a time. As the DCHC MPO MTP has two fixed guideway transit projects (Durham-Orange Light Rail; Durham-Wake Commuter Rail) in their adopted MTP, the MPO decided to use a hybrid of the recommended Alternative Specific Effects for Commuter Rail and Light Rail in the 2040 MTP, knowing that this approach would not be what would ultimately be accepted for FTA purposes if either project advanced.
The work in the DEIS builds upon the work in the 2040 MTP, using the TRM V5 as a tool, but then deviates from the MTP approach by applying Alternative Specific Effects for light-rail-only (excluding commuter rail) in the DEIS, which was done according to FTA best practice recommendations.
Additional questions about the Jobs and Housing inputs should be directed to the DCHC MPO.
Question #2 Where is the ridership modeling for bus rapid transit in the DEIS?
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was not studied as an alternative in the DEIS. BRT was eliminated from consideration for the D-O Corridor as a result of the Alternatives Analysis for the project and subsequent adoption of Light Rail Transit as the preferred technology by the DCHC MPO. As such, ridership modeling for a BRT scenario was not performed as part of the DEIS.
Question #3 How will the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project impact public transit?
Section 3.1 of the DEIS details the anticipated effects of the proposed D-O LRT Project on the public transportation network.
The D-O LRT Project is expected to carry over 26,000 passenger trips on the average weekday in 2040. Ridership forecasts also predict that bus service would remain an important component of the transit service’s approximately 17,000 boardings per average weekday in 2040.
Question #4 How can a LRT Project in a region with a population smaller than Charlotte have more average daily boardings than the Charlotte light rail system?
As stated in GoTriangle’s Request to Enter the New Starts Program Project Development Phase for the D-O LRT Project:
“Within the D-O Corridor, transit use already rivals larger municipalities. For example, when Chapel Hill Transit, Durham Area Transit Authority, Duke University Transit, and Triangle Transit riders are counted together, approximately 70,000 transit trips occur every weekday within and between Chapel Hill and Durham. This level of ridership is comparable to the roughly 73,000 daily transit trips taken in Charlotte in 2006, the year before the LYNX Blue Line Light Rail Transit Line opened.”
Question #5 Why does the project include Park and Ride lots?
Most light rail systems in North America have park and ride facilities at stations to help attract riders. During Engineering, GoTriangle will work with the City of Durham, Town of Chapel Hill and NC DOT, as well as, the Durham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, and Chapel Hill Transportation and Connectivity Board, and representatives from neighborhoods to identify ways to improve pedestrian and bicycle connections to stations.
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