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GoTriangle president to leave agency after failed Durham light rail project

<p>The proposed light rail would have a stop&nbsp;along Lasalle Street and&nbsp;Erwin Road near Duke Hospital.</p>

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

Jeff Mann, GoTriangle president and CEO, will step down from his position this summer after overseeing the failed light rail project in Durham.

After serving as the leader for the regional transit authority since 2015, Mann will leave July 31, GoTriangle announced Wednesday. In his position, he was in charge of the Durham-Orange Light Rail Project, which was discontinued in March after it couldn't receive the necessary funding and cooperation from local partners, especially Duke.

"Through the good times and the tough ones, Jeff and his team have worked closely and diligently with our board,” said Ellen Reckhow, chair of the GoTriangle Board of Trustees, in a news release. “We sincerely appreciate all of his hard work, his leadership and his dedication to a shared regional vision for transit.”

The Durham-Orange light rail would have been a major victory for Mann, after early iterations in the late 1990s and early 2000s never got off the ground. However, despite having a promised federal grant of more than a billion dollars, GoTriangle ended the project after years of planning because it realized it was not going to meet state-imposed funding deadlines. 

Mann and GoTriangle fought to get Duke to sign a cooperation agreement and donate land around Erwin Road, the University's medical corridor. Duke refused to sign the cooperation agreement Feb. 27, citing concerns about how construction and electromagnetic interference may negatively impact its medical center—all but putting the final nail in the coffin for the project.

Victories for Mann included securing funding for a bus station in Raleigh, winning a half-cent sales tax for transit and obtaining grants for electric buses.

General Counsel Shelley Blake will take over as interim president and CEO.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in bus service, the commuter-rail project has advanced into the next study phase and GoTriangle has strengthened its community involvement, including hosting two major Hurricane Relief Bus efforts,” Reckhow said. “While our light-rail project ultimately could not move forward, Jeff led the GoTriangle team in working tirelessly to seek every opportunity to make it successful.”


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