Ken Larsen's website - DOLRT has numerous financial flaws; it's a boondoggle


The proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail project (DOLRT) is a wasteful boondoggle.  Here are the reasons why:


1 There is no guarantee that DOLRT will get its expected significant contribution from the Federal government.  The DOLRT proposal filed with FTA is for $2.5B, of which GoTriangle expects 50% from the Federal government. The estimated cost has since risen to $3.3B partially because money will have to be borrowed to bridge a state funding cutback.  The interest payments will extend to 2062 and are excluded from the "official" $2.5B project estimate.

We won't even know what, if any, Federal money will be provided until the year 2020.  [details]  If DOLRT doesn't get the Federal money, everything that has been spent thus far on DOLRT will have been wasted.  That figure was $ 38M in early 2017.  Since then, the "sunk cost" has been growing by an estimated $ 5M per month, because DOLRT entered the engineering phase in April of 2017.  Hence, by the end of 2017, the sunk cost will have grown to $ 83M ($ 38M + 9 x $ 5M = $ 38M + 45M).

By the end of 2018, the sunk costs will have reached $ 143M.

By the end of 2019, the sunk costs will have reached $ 203M.

Therefore, in 2020 if the Federal government elects to not fund DOLRT, DOLRT will have to be abandoned, and over $ 200M will have been wasted.  That $ 200M could have bought a lot of buses or could have been given to other more deserving community needs ... like fixing our deteriorating schools ..., but instead, it goes totally down the drain.

Click here to see a list of all transit projects which have requested funding from the Federal government.  The key thing to understand is that not all of these projects will get funded.  If DOLRT doesn't get funded, we will be left high and dry.  This risk is one thing GoTriangle does not want the general public to know.

(November 26, 2017) DOLRT is currently ranked last of six transit projects lined up to try to get federal funding.  [details

(January 31, 2018) "Could Trump's new infrastructure plan kill the Durham-Orange Light Rail?" -INDY

(October 3, 2018) "Trump Delays More Federal Transit Funds"

For more on this issue, read this.

Options available if DOLRT does not get Federal funding

2 There is no guarantee that DOLRT will even get 10% from North Carolina state government.  Originally NC State government was supposed to provide 25%, but then they reduced that to 10% max in 2016.
3 To bridge the NC state funding gap, money will be borrowed.  It'll be 2062 before all the debt is paid off.
4 To pay off the debt and the high cost of DOLRT, local government programs will have to be cut back ... or taxes will have to be raised.  This will negatively impact schools, greenways, affordable housing, and bus routes.
5 Cost overruns will torment this project.  At a November 15, 2017 ROMF public presentation I asked GoTriangle staff if it was true that every 4 years a train had to be sent to Seimens in California to be completely overhauled ... at a cost of $ 400K per train.  GoTriangle's Danny Rogers said that it was every 12 years.  Well, his information is false, and my statement is correct.  [details]

[April 18, 2017 BOCC public comment by Harold Gordon on hidden costs that GoTriangle has ignored.]

"In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment.  If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved.  The idea is to get going.  Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in."  -former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, talking about cost overruns for the San Francisco Transbay Terminal mega project.

(December 2018) The latest cost overrun is a proposal by GoTriangle to build a tunnel under a part of downtown Durham [details]. 


[more info on DOLRT finances]

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