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Durham and Orange Counties’ Light Rail Project

Forward-thinking transit solution will transform travel and enhance communities in North Carolina’s Research Triangle.
  • A rendering of a GoTransit light rail train car traveling on an elevated track next to a highway - Gannett Fleming.

    Light rail transit will provide an alternative to increasingly crowded area highways. © Image courtesy of GoTriangle

Client
GoTriangle

Location
Durham and Orange Counties, North Carolina

Our Role
Construction Management.

Data
Size
17.7 miles
Construction Cost
$2.5 billion
Completed
In progress
Type
New Construction
Outcomes
  • 17.7-mile transit system will help reduce traffic congestion on area roadways
  • 26,000 daily light rail trips will enhance regional mobility
  • New development near stations is poised to add $4.7 billion to the GDP in two counties
  • Economic stimulation projected to support 20,000 new jobs in the region.

In one of the fastest-growing parts of the country, the Research Triangle Regional Public Transportation Authority, GoTriangle, is developing a light rail transit (LRT) system, designed to meet the area’s future transportation needs. The 17.7-mile project will provide an alternative to congested roadways, especially the U.S. 15-501 corridor between Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Gannett Fleming, as joint venture lead, is the construction management consultant (CMC) for the Durham-Orange LRT project.

The system will connect commuters in Durham and Orange counties to three universities, three major medical facilities, and three of the top 10 employers in the state. It will provide an estimated 26,000 trips daily, running between North Carolina Central University in Durham and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The project features 18 stations and nine park-and-ride locations, as well as connections to other transit services. By fostering development near the stations, the system will advance growth in the Triangle, which is expected to welcome 250,000 new residents over the next 25 years.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming is providing cost estimates, construction schedules, constructability reviews, and contract package recommendations during the design phase. The CMC team also is reviewing GoTriangle’s construction and equipment procurement procedures during the pre-construction phase and developing a project execution plan that effectively communicates project objectives and how they will be accomplished. To ensure safe and controlled worksites during construction, the team is preparing project safety, security, and emergency management plans. When construction commences, the team will confirm that all work is completed as specified, monitoring progress by tracking the schedule of deliverables and identifying issues that might cause delays.

The LRT system will be built along a dedicated guideway separate from traffic. The line consists of 10 miles of at-grade ballasted track, 4 miles of elevated track, and 3.5 miles of at-grade embedded track. It will provide relief for 17 GoTriangle bus routes, allowing buses to be rerouted elsewhere, further enhancing regional mobility. Development resulting from the system is expected to create 20,000 new jobs and add $4.7 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) between the two counties. Now in the engineering phase, the Durham-Orange LRT is poised to revolutionize travel and improve communities throughout the Triangle.

Key Features

  • 17.7 miles of at-grade and elevated track connects Durham and Chapel Hill 
  • 18 stations provide direct access to Duke University, North Carolina State University, and University of North Carolina locations, as well as employment, retail, and residential centers
  • Park-and-ride locations create 4,400 parking spaces in the system.

Sustainability Features & Outcomes

  • Development near transit stations supports controlled growth, reducing sprawl
  • Alternative transportation reduces automobile fuel consumption and air pollution
  • Creation of walkable communities improves the region’s quality of life.

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