Duke Beltline worth $7.1M, railroad says

City prefers donation or discount
Sep. 10, 2013 @ 04:46 PM

Norfolk Southern has told Durham officials the so-called "Duke Beltline" spur that rings downtown Durham is worth $7.1 million, City Manager Tom Bonfield says.

The quote emerged from a new appraisal conducted in response to renewed attempts by the city to gauge the railroad's interest in selling the Beltline for conversion into a walking trail.

City officials have lined up about $2 million in local and federal funding for an acquisition and have hoped to persuade the railroad to donate the property or sell it at a reduced price.

But a company vice president told them in March that Norfolk Southern would only sell the line for its fair market value and even then only if the city agreed to close a dangerous rail crossing in east Durham at the intersection of Ellis Road and Angier Avenue.

Bonfield said the railroad has since signaled that it'd also consider leasing the Beltline to the city for up to 10 years.

An outright sale would have to include the entire Beltline, not merely a portion of it.

"It does not appear that the City has much leverage at this point to persuade Norfolk Southern to a different conclusion," Bonfield told City Council members via email. "Wish I had better news."