The Federal Transit Administration announced Tuesday that it had approved Triangle Transit's request to enter project development on the 17-mile Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project.
"We can now proceed to complete the environmental process, advance our engineering and make final alignment decisions," said Triangle Transit General Manager David King.
"We will also use this time to strengthen our financial plan and work with our municipal and university partners on land use and housing issues around stations."
The project development phase is expected to take two years, followed by a three-year engineering phase.
Construction on the 17-mile light rail would begin after completion of the engineering phase, and is expected to take four to five years, Triangle Transit said.
The light rail line would run from Chapel Hill to East Durham. The proposed stops include:
As of 2012, the project cost was estimated at $1.34 billion. The local share of the rail project would be funded by a one-half cent sales tax increase approved by Durham and Orange county voters.
The sales tax increase also helps fund expanded bus service.
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