Funds to Cover Costs for Two New Electric GoDurham Buses and R. Kelly Bryant Bridge Trail Construction
DURHAM, N.C. – Two important sustainable transportation projects in Durham will now receive a combined $4.3 million in federal funding thanks to the Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations Omnibus Bill signed by President Joe Biden last month.
The City of Durham will use these funds, requested by former U.S. Representative David Price, to purchase two new zero-emissions, battery-electric GoDurham buses and to move forward with the construction of the long-awaited 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’re grateful for former Congressman Price’s support for Durham throughout his decades of service. 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 bill provides $2 million for purchasing 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,” said Transportation Director Sean Egan. “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.”
The bill also allocates $2.3 million for the R. Kelly Bryant Bridge Trail. Using a local match of $575,000 from the City’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), construction of the three-mile trail is now tentatively set 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 City’s Transportation staff will ask City Council members to approve the use of the federal appropriations to purchase the two electric buses in the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget. According to Egan, this is a great example of regional coordination to improve sustainable transit, as buses will be purchased using a cooperative procurement led by GoTriangle and the joint application for federal funds was coordinated by Chapel Hill Transit.