Durham receives $4.3 million from feds for trail and transportation infrastructure

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North Carolina Construction News staff writer

Two transportation projects in Durham will receive a combined $4.3 million in federal funding.

Funds will be used to buy two new zero-emissions, battery-electric GoDurham buses and for construction of the R. Kelly Bryant Bridge Trail.

“We’re grateful for this federal funding, which allows us to continue to improve our air quality through zero-emission buses, and to build a trail to reconnect communities and destinations that were divided and harmed by the Durham Freeway’s construction half a century ago,” said Mayor Elaine O’Neal.

“We look forward to working with Valerie Foushee, the 4th District’s new congressional representative, as we search for ways to implement more innovative, equitable, and sustainable transit options in the future.”

The appropriations omnibus bill signed by President Joe Biden last month allocates $2.3 million for the R. Kelly Bryant Bridge Trail. Using  $575,000 from the capital improvement plan (CIP), construction of the three-mile trail is expected to begin in 2025.

Using the existing bridge across the Durham Freeway/N.C. 147 that opened in 2010, once completed, the trail will connect North Carolina Central University, Eastway Elementary, the McDougald Terrace neighborhood, Rocky Creek Greenway, Elmira Park, East End Park, Long Meadow Park, and Burton Park. As a result, mobility will be increased and transportation options will be diversified for these surrounding residential neighborhoods and local schools.

Although bridge trail construction may not begin until 2025, 2023 is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina. Durham Parks and Recreation (DPR) staff will maintain the R. Kelly Bryant Bridge Trail once it’s completed in 2026. DPR currently manages more than 30 miles of multi-use trails and greenways. Residents and visitors can select greenways here to see start and stop locations.

The bill also provides $2 million for two zero-emissions, battery-electric GoDurham buses, which helps further the City’s goal to invest in clean, quiet, zero-emissions technology to reduce the carbon footprint, improve air quality, and reduce noise pollution.

“We want an all-electric GoDurham bus fleet by 2035, and this funding helps us get closer to that goal by covering the cost to purchase two new electric buses,” Transportation Director Sean Egan said in a statement. “We’re thrilled and grateful to receive federal funds that will allow us to order more electric buses, which we hope to have in service in 2025.

“In the meantime, we’re making progress on our electrification goal with two battery-electric buses currently running on Route 3 and six additional electric buses arriving this summer thanks to funding provided by the Durham County Transit Plan.”

Transportation staff will ask council members to approve the use of the federal appropriations to buy electric buses in the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget.

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