Updated Rail Finance Plan Part of Formal Federal Funding Request

Lena Tran/Civil Beat

UPDATED 4 p.m. 6/28/12

The Honolulu rail project is now in the federal government's hands.

After years of discussions and planning, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation on Thursday said it's submitted a formal application for $1.55 billion from the Federal Transit Administration. That represents about 30 percent of construction costs from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Shopping Center.

"I'm not sure if it's the most significant milestone in this project, but it very well might be," HART CEO Daniel Grabauskas told Civil Beat. "We're going to file, finally, for the Full Funding Grant Agreement. The joke I've made around here is that after 40 years of being an applicant, we're about to become a grantee, and that's really what we're embarking on when we submit the application."

The new financial plan projects that the city will need to contribute nearly $600 million more in "operating subsidy" than had been estimated in the previous model. That money could come from the general fund and property taxes.

A spokeswoman for anti-rail mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano told Civil Beat Thursday morning he would want to review the details of the application and financial plan before commenting. UPDATE Cliff Slater, a lead opponent and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the project, said HART should admit that the project cost is going up rather than the contingency being drawn down.

The application includes a 16-page template document and eight short attachments. Grabauskas told the HART Finance Committee about the filing Thursday morning in Kapolei. The most important piece of the puzzle, at least from the public's perspective, is an updated draft of the project's financial plan that lays out how HART intends to pay for construction over the next seven years or so.

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