(San Francisco) – City leaders and FTA officials today concluded two days of discussions on a Recovery Plan for the Honolulu rail project. “Our meeting s with the FTA were productive in that we sent a clear message to them that the City and HART leadership are united and committed to build rail all the way to Ala Moana,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The FTA previously required the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) submit a Recovery Plan by the end of the year. During the San Francisco meetings, the Hawaii delegation reaffirmed the City’s commitment to build to Ala Moana and requested the FTA reconsider its end of year submission date. “We are very encouraged by the FTA’s response” said Mayor Caldwell. “As emphasized by FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers, the FTA is a partner with us on the rail project,” said HART Board Chair Colleen Hanabusa. “Having all the stakeholders at the table to discuss how best to build a functional rail project for the people of Hawaii was key.”
In December 2012, the FTA and the City signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) committing the federal government’s $1.55 billion for Honolulu to build a 20-mile elevated rail system with 21 stations. “Our federal partners made it clear that ending the project at Middle Street is unacceptable and would risk the full $1.55 billion committed to the city through the FFGA,” said City Council Chair Ernie Martin. Both Mayor Caldwell and Council Chair Martin asked the FTA for a commitment for additional federal funds. The FTA’s response was “no.”
“We need the legislature’s support to invest in a better future with us and to recognize the role rail will play in improving the quality of life for the people of Hawaii,” said Council Transportation Chair Joey Manahan. As partners in the FFGA, the FTA, HART and the City ended the meetings on a positive note with an agreement that project costs will be contained, a project review by transit experts will be conducted by year end and an updated financial plan will be prepared by HART as the FTA is reconsidering its recovery plan due date.