Inouye says Cayetano's transit plan would force federal delay

HONOLULU (AP) - U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says an alternative transit plan introduced by Honolulu mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano would force federal delays for funding and send $1.55 billion in allocated funds back to the federal government.

Inouye said in a statement Friday that Cayetano's plan for a bus rapid transit system would put Honolulu in the back of the line in terms of federal consideration.

Cayetano proposed the $1.1 billion system of express buses, contraflow lanes and underpasses as an alternative to a proposed $5 billion rail line.

Inouye says he doubts Cayetano's $1.1 billion estimate for the alternative plan.

Hawaii's senior U.S. senator says he's confident Honolulu rail will get an agreement from the Federal Transit Administration by the end of 2012.

Cayetano faces former acting mayor Kirk Caldwell in November.

Full statement:

"It has taken seven years for the Honolulu Rail Transit project to reach this final phase of review.  I have every confidence that we will be able to obtain a Full Funding Grant Agreement from the Federal Transit Administration, including Congressional review, before the end of the year.  The people of West Oahu have waited long enough."

"Governor Cayetano's bus rapid transit plan would force Honolulu to the back of the line, adding years upon years of continued traffic gridlock.  Governor Cayetano does not understand that the precious $1.55 billion for Honolulu rail is not transferable but will go back to the federal government. His plan has no assurance of federal funding, and it will require a federal environmental impact statement, and a detailed examination by the FTA.  Finally, Governor Cayetano's claim that his proposal will cost only $1.1 billion appears to have little analytical support; it is an estimate that the FTA will approach with great skepticism," said U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye

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