Orange County board endorses light rail plan


HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The Orange County Board of Commissioners has approved a plan to build light rail in Orange and Durham counties.

“I think it’s a great idea to cut down on people, obviously, driving,” said Heidi Lamay of Hillsborough.

The Durham-Orange Light Rail is a $3 billion project aimed at transforming how people get around the Triangle.

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There would be several stations connecting UNC to downtown Durham, but some people say not enough of Orange County is served by the project.

Bonnie Hauser is one of them. She says the county needs a better transit plan with more bus service.

“So, what’s the benefit for Orange County? UNC isn’t paying for it. Orange County citizens are paying for it,” she said.

County Commissioners took a closer look at the plan Thursday night, weighing the long-term debt.

“The funding scheme for the proposed project places Orange County at significant risk,” said Commissioner Renee Price.

The plan relies on a combination of federal, state and local funding. Some members of the county board are worried that the amounts each will pay have shifted over the years.

RELATED: Light rail plan for Durham, Orange counties draws divided opinions

“That’s my concern, that we’re operating on a razor’s edge,” said commissioner Earl McKee.

But commissioners voted 5 to 2 to approve the plan and the cost-sharing agreement.

“I think it’s a critically important moment for not just Orange County, but Durham County, the whole Triangle region,” said Mark Dorosin, the board’s chairman.

Durham County already approved the plan earlier this week, and the project could become reality in a decade.

Soon it will go to the Federal Transit Administration.

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