At a critical time, Oahu's beleaguered rail project gets bad pre - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

At a critical time, Oahu's beleaguered rail project gets bad press nationally

(Image: Hawaii News Now/file) (Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The story about cost overruns at Honolulu's rail system is well known on Oahu, but the issue is new for millions of Fox News' national viewers.

And this was the conclusion of a recent report: "With the system years behind schedule and billions over budget, critics are calling it nothing more than a boondoggle at taxpayers expense," Fox anchor Heather Childers said.

Some say the bad publicity from the Fox story and the full ad in last Friday's Washington Post by former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who urged President Donald Trump to cut off the project, could hurt the rail project at a critical time.

"I think this is the last best chance to if you're anti-rail to see it stopped. If all this perfect storm coming together doesn't stop it, then it is a bureaucratic inevitability," said Hawaii Pacific University Communications Professor John Hart.

Rail officials must provide a new recovery plan to the Federal Transit Administration by Sunday. At stake, is the $1.5 billion in funding provided by the Feds.

And lawmakers meet Wednesday morning to discuss how long they will extend the rail tax surcharge.

But U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a former member of the rail authority board, said she sees minimal impact.

That's because the Trump Administration hasn't appointed new leadership at the FTA. She said she expects the federal agency will give the city more time to come up with a plan.

Much of the criticisms raised by Cayetano and others is old news at the FTA, which has raised the issues itself in its reviews of the project, Hanabusa said.

"Quite candidly, I don't think we're going to see any FTA official weighting in at this time," she said.

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