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North Carolina's Triangle Transit removes regional rail plan from New Starts process, seeks local funding


North Carolina’s Triangle Transit Authority (TTA) recently announced it will remove its proposed Triangle Regional Rail Project from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts process due to recent changes in federal funding criteria.

The administration prioritizes projects seeking federal funds based on a cost-effectiveness formula that takes projected ridership and project cost into account. The FTA has created more stringent New Starts funding requirements because of the large volume of projects on the drawing board.

“Our project’s been in the pipeline and in final design status since 2003, but with changes in New Starts criteria, we can no longer meet the requirements FTA has for funding,” says TTA General Manager John Claflin. “We were ready to go to construction, so this was extremely frustrating.”

TTA officials now will explore other funding options, such as working with a master developer to fund the project through a combination of private and local dollars, Claflin says.

The proposed 28-mile passenger-rail line, which would connect downtown Durham with Research Triangle Park, Morrisville, Cary, North Carolina State University and downtown Raleigh. Design for the project is 90 percent complete and TTA has obtained right of way.

Angela Cotey