Hannemann: rail clears another hurdle - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hannemann: rail clears another hurdle

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Pro-Rail Rally Pro-Rail Rally
Councilman Todd Apo Councilman Todd Apo
Governor Linda Lingle Governor Linda Lingle

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Full speed ahead, maybe.

The Federal Transit Administration has approved the plans for Honolulu's rail project.

But it's still missing one signature.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann says they've come this far in five short years, when it usually takes cities as long as 14 years to reach this point.

But now it's up to Governor Linda Lingle for the final approval.

It's wasn't just another rail rally. It was a historic one that's five years in the making.

That's when Mayor Hannemann began his mission to bring rail transit to Oahu.

"This has been vetted and scrutinized and it's gone through several financial reviews," he said in front of a crowd of about a hundred people in front of Honolulu Hale.

The Federal Transit Administration's approval of the final EIS is a major hurdle cleared by the Hannemann administration and his supporters.

"The community, the economic, the social impacts and benefits of rail are good to go in the final EIS," he said.

Some of the key highlights in the report say the project will take 40,000 cars off our roads every day in 2030.

It'll also employ 10,000 workers every year and pose no substantial impact to threatened, endangered or protected species.

No severe noise impacts are expected and it'll make a smaller land-use footprint than building new highways or roads.

"We need the transportation relief, we need to make sure not only West Oahu is developed correctly, but the entire urban core is re-developed correctly," Honolulu City Councilman chair Todd Apo said.

But there's one speed bump Hannemann still has to worry about.

Governor Lingle has said she won't sign off on the $5.4-billion project until she's convinced the city's financial plan is practical.

Messages left with her staff Monday night have not been returned.

The governor herself is still in Asia. The city is still hoping to break ground in January.

But that all depends on how soon the governor approves the final EIS.

Only one thing's for sure, Governor Lingle holds the key to rail moving full speed ahead or coming to a screeching halt.

The executive summary for the final EIS will be released Tuesday and you can see it on our Web Site.

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