FTA Says It Will Sign $1.55 Billion Deal For Honolulu Rail Project

Nick Grube/Civil Beat

UPDATED 11/19/12 3 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Federal Transit Administration on Monday told leaders in Congress it will sign a $1.55 billion funding agreement for the Honolulu rail project, the third key hurdle cleared by the once-embattled system in less than three weeks.

The first hurdle was judicial; an environmental lawsuit was dismissed in part by a federal judge on Nov. 1. The second hurdle was electoral; anti-rail candidate Ben Cayetano lost his bid for mayor on Nov. 6. The third hurdle is administrative, with the FTA sending notice to four congressional committees giving them the mandated 30 days notice before a deal is signed.

The notice was sent to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Senate Banking Committee, the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, the last of which is chaired by Hawaii's Daniel K. Inouye. It was his office that broke the news Monday with a celebratory press release saying that "the path to this agreement with the federal government has not been easy."

"This is an important step toward providing federal funding for the Honolulu Rail Transit project," Inouye said in the joint press release from Hawaii's four-member congressional delegation. "We have discussed and debated the merits of a rail line on the island of Oahu for the majority of my time in the Congress and I would like to thank Peter Rogoff and the Federal Transit Administration, President Obama, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for partnering with the City and County of Honolulu to build a system that will alleviate traffic congestion, lessen our dependence on imported fossil fuels and provide our residents, in particular those living in West Oahu, with a much needed alternative to driving."

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