HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Federal Transit Administration Tuesday issued a Record of Decision for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project, confirming that the project has met all the requirements of the environmental review process and clearing the way for construction to begin on Honolulu's first rail system.
FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff presented the Record of Decision to Mayor Peter Carlisle and Toru Hamayasu, general manager for the city's Rapid Transit Division, at FTA offices in Washington, D.C.
"This is one of the most significant milestones for the rail project," Carlisle said. "We will soon be able to provide residents with a sensible alternative to our congested roads and highways and improve their overall quality of life. Rail transit construction will also create thousands of jobs and fuel our state's economy - it's time to get those shovels in the ground."
"Today marks an important milestone in Oahu's quest to become a more transit-friendly island," said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. "With the completion of the National Environmental Policy Act process, the City of Honolulu has met all of the laws and regulations of the environmental review and we look forward to the day when Honolulu's citizens can ride the rails in comfort, breathe cleaner air, and avoid getting stuck in time-wasting traffic jams."
Carlisle said he was pleased to have the FTA's approval.
"This is a huge accomplishment and reflects the strong confidence the FTA has in this project. Our transit team has worked closely with FTA throughout the process and this shows that our plan is sound and our project is on solid footing," he said.
The FTA's approval follows Gov. Neil Abercrombie's acceptance of the state's Final Environmental Impact Statement in December. The project's EIS identified environmental, community and economic benefits and impacts of the rail system as well as mitigation measures for addressing these issues.
The $5.5 billion transit project is a 20-mile elevated rail system connecting East Kapolei with Ala Moana Center. It includes 21 stations in communities including Waipahu, Pearl City, Aiea, Kalihi, Chinatown, Downtown Honolulu and Kakaako. There will also be stations at activity centers such as UH-West Oahu, Leeward Community College, Pearl Highlands, Pearlridge, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu International Airport and Honolulu Community College.
The City has already awarded a construction contract for the first phase of the elevated rail guideway from East Kapolei to Pearl City. A second contract for the train storage and maintenance facility in Waipahu is expected to be executed shortly. The city is scheduled to award two more major contracts this year for the second phase of the rail route from Pearl City to Aloha Stadium and for the "core systems," which consists of the train vehicles and the control center for the rail system.