Feds OK Final Rail Design Work, But Demand Stronger Financial Plan

Michael Levine/Civil Beat

The Honolulu rail project cleared a significant hurdle Thursday when the Federal Transit Administration said it could enter into "final design" — the last stage before a promise of $1.55 billion in federal funds and a green light for construction.

The approval came in a letter from FTA regional administrator Leslie Rogers and was announced in a press release from the city. It allows essentially everything but construction, explicitly including final design activities, demolition and procurement of rails and ties.

The release included celebratory quotes from a wide cast of characters — Mayor Peter Carlisle ("This is great news for Honolulu"); Sen. Daniel K. Inouye ("This is significant and demonstrates the continued support"); U.S. Reps. Mazie Hirono ("Today’s announcement is a significant milestone and another positive step") and Colleen Hanabusa ("I'm glad to see the project continue to make progress"); Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin ("I am pleased with the FTA's announcement"); and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) board Chair Carrie Okinaga ("This approval serves as further confirmation").

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