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GoTriangle votes to end light rail project

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The proposed light rail would have a stop along Lasalle Street and Erwin Road near Duke Hospital.

After a unanimous vote, GoTriangle will stop pursuing the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project.

The GoTriangle Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to end the project, WRAL reported, saying it would be “nearly impossible to revive" it. The project faced a nearly $275 million budget shortage, and two key partners, Duke and North Carolina Railroad, did not sign a cooperative agreement before the Feb. 28 deadline. 

WUNC reported that GoTriangle CEO Jeff Mann cited rising costs, deadlines imposed by the state and lack of buy-in from “local stakeholders.”

Duke would have had to donate land for the proposed project. In a letter announcing it would not sign onto the cooperative agreement, the University also cited concerns about electromagnetic interference, construction that may cause vibrations in building a line near Duke Hospital and the Eye Center, among other concerns. 

Days after declining to sign the agreement, Duke administrators announced March 7 that the University would not participate in mediation that GoTriangle officials requested. 

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon that Duke shares GoTriangle's "commitment to the success of Durham and the region, and look forward to working together in future on this and many other important issues."

"The need for a comprehensive, sustainable and dynamic regional transit solution is more urgent than ever," Schoenfeld wrote. "Duke will be an enthusiastic participant in developing a plan that serves the greatest number of our citizens, and makes the best and most effective use of all modes of transportation and new technologies."

He added that they "recognize and salute the enormous amount of work that many people, in particular our past and present elected officials, put into the light rail project."

Check back for updates to this developing story. 

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