Inouye renews rail warning - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Inouye renews rail warning

Senator Daniel Inouye Senator Daniel Inouye
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle (atop car) Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle (atop car)
Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Computer generated rail visualization Computer generated rail visualization

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye used a workshop on Rail Transit to re-state that Federal funding is in jeopardy unless the project moves ahead. He said $1.55 billion isn't a guarantee-in-waiting.

"It is not bound in steel. It is just a promise," he said.

Rail supporters said if Governor Linda Lingle signed the Environmental Impact Statement, the project could get a key document in 30 days, then construction could begin.

"I think you'd see dirt being moved shortly after the record of decision being issued. They'd ramp up. It would take weeks and then months to ramp it up and actually see major construction start," acting Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

The Office of Environmental Quality Control has the EIS. It's responding to more than 13,000 public comments.

Lingle's spokesman Russell Pang said the process must be followed.

"The OEQC must address all public comments," he said.

But Caldwell said delays could put another money source in jeopardy. The legislature could raid the half-percent excise fund that's holding over half a billion dollars.

"In the past they've looked to borrow that," he said. "We've been told by the Federal Transit Administration, they borrow that money, all bets are off."

The governor also wants an independent review of the Rail financial plan.

Caldwell said if Mufi Hannemann or Neil Abercrombie become governor, the Rail EIS could be signed as early as December 6 and the first shovel could be in the ground in January, getting rail off the ground.

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