Triangle Transit Authority
, TTA, said its effort to bring
regional rail service
to the Triangle is right on track.
The TTA said that the State Fairgrounds Regional Rail Station is expected to rise out of the dust and gravel along Hillsborough Street in Raleigh by 2008. The fairgrounds stop is one of
that the TTA wants to build from Durham to North Raleigh. The latest estimate for the full system is $750 million.
While the TTA is confident that the self-propelled, diesel, Flexliner trains will roll down the line, there is some trouble on the tracks. The TTA gets much of its funding through rental car taxes. It says that taxes are off by 20 percent due to the slowing economy and the events of Sept 11.
"Now that slowing, if it were to continue, might delay the project. It won't stop the project, but it could mean the project opens a little bit later or runs a little less frequently than we'd like," said Jim Ritchey of the Triangle Transit Authority.
The TTA's plans are ambitious. For example, it wants to build an overpass on Blue Ridge Road near the planned State Fairgrounds stop.That way cars and commuter trains would be able to operate without interfering with each other.
Some opponents believe a regional rail system is too expensive and too big a project for too little potential ridership. Others disagree.
"It cuts down on pollution, cuts down on traffic, and I think it would be a good thing for the Triangle area," said Joe Mainville, a supporter of the regional rail system.
Rail backers will have to react and be ready to make changes to make a rail system a reality by 2008.
The Triangle Transit Authority needs to finalize its station site plan by the end of the year. A final environmental impact study is due this spring.
If the plans are approved, the TTA said that the federal government will pay half the cost for the rail line.