FTA approves Honolulu rail recovery plan

  • In this May 30, 2017, file photo, a rail car tops an elevated rail line in Waipahu, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz, file)
  • Schatz

HONOLULU — The Federal Transit Administration has approved the recovery plan for rail that was submitted by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation earlier this year, according to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

In a statement released by Schatz’s office this morning, the Hawaii senator said that “This is not the end of the process, but this is an important milestone that recognizes the work that the state and the city have done in getting this project to be more accountable and keep costs under control.”

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“I will continue to work with our federal partners to make sure that we reach the finish line. We have a long way to go but this is good news, ” he said.

The recovery plan was submitted by the Honolulu rail authority to demonstrate to the FTA that the city has a workable plan for completing the 20-mile rail line.

The line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center was supposed to cost $5.2 billion and be completed early next year. However, the FTA now projects rail will cost $9.2 billion, and will not be finished until 2026.

“This is a significant milestone for our project, ” said HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins.

Robbins said the Recovery Plan approval clears the way for the FTA to release $744 million that is part of the city’s Full Funding Grant Agreement with the federal government.

“Without this approval, receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars for the project would continue to be delayed, ” Robbins said.

City officials expect the federal government to release additional funding for rail early next year after a public-private or P3 contract is awarded to complete the last four miles of rail line from Middle Street to Ala Moana.

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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the cost of the P3 contract will have to be equal to or less than the cost estimates submitted and approved by the Recovery Plan.

“Counter to what opponents of the rail project continue to claim, the city remains on solid financial footing, ” Caldwell said in his statement.

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