Mayor: FTA withholds $250M for rail project until .5% tax extension approved by City Council

Mayor Caldwell: FTA will withhold $250M for rail project until .5% tax extension approved by City Council

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Federal Transit Administration will withhold $250 million that was going to be appropriated for the Honolulu rail project in fiscal year 2015 until a .5 percent tax extension is approved by the City Council, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a live satellite interview on Hawaii News Now.

"What that means is that HART is going to be burning through the cash they have on hand, and at some point, they won't have sufficient funds to continue," Caldwell said.

Caldwell is currently in Washington D.C. for meetings with federal officials, including Therese McMillan of the Federal Transit Administration and Peter Rogoff from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"The FTA says they're doing this to let HART know, let the City Council know that they need action taken for the full five years, sufficient money to pay for the entire project," Caldwell said. "And until that happens, they don't want to invest more money into the project, or turn more money over to the project."

This comes as rail officials urge lawmakers to approve a five-year extension of the general excise tax surcharge that they say is critical for the more than $6 billion rail project.

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