Amidst uncertainty about federal funding and potential engineering obstacles, the Orange County Board of Commissioners unanimously signed a letter Tuesday night affirming the county’s $149.5 million commitment to the Durham-Orange Light Rail project.
The letter also communicated Durham’s $57.6 million offer to offset lost state funding after a revised General Assembly budget reduced the state’s contribution cap from $247.6 million to $190 million.
Commissioner Earl McKee expressed concern about unexpected infrastructure costs — in particular, a new estimate of $90 million to elevate the track near Duke University. John Tallmadge, GoTriangle’s interim project director, said they intend to cover the cost by using more efficient techniques.
“I would not expect Durham to be as gracious as they have been — I understand the benefit to Durham is greater than the benefit to Orange, and they’ve been generous to pick up this shortfall, but I’m not sure they can pick up another,” McKee said. “I’m worried we’re going to run into a situation that cannot be fixed by value engineering.”
According to WRAL, approximately $88 million has already been spent on local planning for the light-rail project. Board Chairperson Mark Dorosin expressed the county’s caution with future cost-estimates and said Durham’s offer to cover lost funding has been critical in securing private funds.