Local News

Four Stops On TTA Regional Rail Plan Sidetracked

Posted July 29, 2004 8:21 a.m. EDT

— Due to rising costs, officials with the

Triangle Transit Authority

have scaled back plans for their 25-mile rail system that would link Raleigh, Durham and Research Triangle Park.

Original plans called for 16 stations. Wednesday, the authority announced its new plans would call for 12 stations that would open in 2008. The other four stations will be postponed indefinitely

The new proposal was based on declining local revenues and rising construction costs.

The system had a price tag in 2003 of $724 million. The cost has risen due to an increase in the price of steel.

In addition, officials said, revenue from rental car taxes have gone down, leading to the need to cut costs.

"With rising costs and lowering revenue, we really don't have a choice," said TTA General Manager John Claflin. "We want to make this project work, and the way we make it work is to be able to build what we can afford."

The initial operating segment of the rail project, with 12 stations from Ninth Street in Durham to the Government Center station in Raleigh, is scheduled to open in 2008. The board's vote will extend the opening of the four remaining stations -- Duke Medical Center in Durham, and Highwoods, New Hope Church Road and Spring Forest in Raleigh -- beyond 2011.

"We believe that revising the scope of the project is the best decision at this time to ensure that the Regional Rail Transit System moves forward," Claflin said. "These revisions will allow us to strengthen our project and keep it competitive with the more than 184 other projects vying for federal funding."

The proposal is subject to final approval from the authority's board.

Already, $65 million in federal money is allocated for the project. Another $20 million is set aside in the president's proposed budget.

Rep. Sam Ellis said even the scaled back version should be derailed.

"I would suggest they not spend this money at all," Ellis, R-Wake County said. "I believe it's an 18th century solution to a 21st century problem. For the rail to be successful, we need to have density and development that you do in Washington, D.C., and New York."