Permit approval allows city to start rail project construction - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Permit approval allows city to start rail project construction

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council Wednesday approved a Special Management Area Use Permit that allows the Honolulu Rail Transit Project to begin early construction.

The City Council voted 8-0 to approve the permit, which allows the city to move ahead with the construction permitting process for the rail project.

Initial work for the rail project can start soon with the relocation of utilities and site preparation for the eventual construction of the elevated rail guideway.

The city Department of Planning and Permitting, which oversees the SMP process, recommended approval of the permit. The permit application concluded the rail project will have no significant adverse environmental or ecological effects on coastal ecosystems, beaches or other coastal resources.

About 1.6 miles of the 20-mile rail project route will be inside the Special Management Area district, with a 2.8-mile portion of the rail transit route bordering the district.

The permit approval follows the Federal Transit Administration issuing a Record of Decision last week for the project.

In December, Gov. Neil Abercrombie accepted the project's Final Environmental Impact, which identified environmental, community and economic benefits and impacts of the rail system as well as mitigation measures for addressing these issues.

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 construction 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.

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