250 million money train for Honolulu's rail project- Congress ap - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

250 million money train for Honolulu's rail project- Congress approves full funding for 2014

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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Ivan Lui-Kwah Ivan Lui-Kwah
Dan Grabauskas Dan Grabauskas

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) - The U.S. House and Senate committed 250 million dollars for full rail funding for 2014 on the same day.

"They always say show me the money, right" asked Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "They're showing us the money."

So far, the federal government has coughed up 750 million, and promised 1.5 billion dollar for Oahu's rail.

The game changer was the full funding agreement signed just days after senator Daniel Inouye's death last December.

Mayor Caldwell said of the rail milestone, "Here's something that's a little bittersweet on a very happy day. This lives through the great work of our Senior Senator Inouye."

HART Vice Chair Ivan Lui-Kwah said a delegation from Hawaii met in 2011 at the Senator's office and, "he said it's very important for leaders in Hawaii to be in harmony and in unison and show Congress that we want this project."

The funding came through, despite forced cuts in Washington D.C.

HART CEO Dan Grabauskas says it's cause for celebration. As he put it, "If there's something we should be especially proud of in Hawaii, this is the single largest grant for any project anywhere in the United States. They know we're diligently working to get back to construction, that we're addressing all the issues. Supreme Court and Federal cases have put before us."

Just today, HART forecast to City Council 2-hundred million in contingency funding for possible EIS delays and change orders.

As Grabauskas put it, "We know there will be hiccups with this project. It's 5 billion dollar project, 20 miles long, 21 stations. Very complex. But, if we take everyone if you will along for the ride, let them see the good, and the things that might be a challenge for us."

Mayor Caldwell says rail will boost our bottom line. "When you think we're going to be building a construction project over 5 billion dollars. 5 billion over next 10 years. It's a huge boost to our economy."

The number five is significant for another reason, it's Dan Grabauskas' 50th birthday, or as he said, "I am Hawaii Five O today."

The Mayor joked, "We like to believe the 250 million is coming from US Senate and House because it's your birthday, probably not."

But the Mayor and rail team did sing Happy Birthday to Grabauskas. While it's tough to top the 250 million dollar birthday present, Caldwell gave him homemade banana bread.

Construction will likely still be going on when Grabauskas celebrates his 60th birthday.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard said in a statement, that she's "encouraged by strong federal support for Honolulu's much needed infrastructure improvements."

Especially since the House wanted to slash funding to 100 million just last year.

The money goes into an account and the City will submit receipts for reimbursement out of that 250-million dollars.  

 

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