1989: Originally named the Research Triangle Regional Transportation Authority, TTA was created by legislators to study and resolve mass-transit issues in Wake, Durham and Orange counties.

SEPTEMBER 1990: Raleigh Mayor Avery C. Upchurch suggests that a system of diesel-powered, self-propelled rail cars that would carry commuters on existing railroad track could be the first step in providing mass transit between Raleigh and Durham during rush hour.

SEPTEMBER 1996: As part of a $38 billion-dollar appropriations bill Congress awards $2 million to the TTA. The federal money will be used to complete environmental and technical studies for a light rail system.

MAY 1999: A consultant hired by the Raleigh-Durham airport agrees with TTA that the regional rail system does not need to connect to the airport in its first phase.

OCTOBER 2000: TTA plans to use self-propelled, reversible train cars that have a maximum speed of 60 mph with its projected start of commuter service in 2007. TTA expects startup costs to be between $406.9 million and $622.2 million.

OCTOBER 2001: TTA board of trustees approves 10 sites in Raleigh, Durham and Cary for some of the first regional rail stations now scheduled to begin service in 2008.

OCTOBER 2002: TTA now estimates the cost of the commuter rail system to be $721.9 million.

MARCH 2003: Federal Transit Authority tells TTA that they can begin the final design phase of the 35-mile regional rail system. This phase is the last big hurdle before the TTA can secure federal funding for the project.

SEPTEMBER 2004: TTA revises its plan and asks the federal government to pay more of the rail project construction costs and proposes to cut the state and local burden by $156.5 million.

OCTOBER 2004: TTA plans to spend $90 million to purchase 32 self-propelled diesel rail cars.

JANUARY 2005: The FTA changes its rating of the TTA's proposed commuter rail service from "recommended" to neutral, saying it has doubts about the benefits of the light rail service.

DECEMBER 2005: Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr say in a letter to the TTA that the proposed project is not likely to be approved by federal officials.