$20 million in federal funds for Oahu's rail project

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A new chapter in Honolulu's rail transit began on Thursday when the Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to approve $20 million in funding for the project.

Last year a similar appropriation of $15.5 million was approved.Key rail officials believe that the project is likely to recieve an estimated total of $900 million in federal support for construction.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he is very pleased and thankful for the support.

"This is another important step in the right direction for this project and Oahu," said Mayor Hanneman,"I'm grateful to Senator Daniel Inouye for all his hard work to obtain the full amount requested for this project that is so vital to Oahu's future."

Initially once the funds are released they will be used to pay for the preliminary engineering work on the project. Actual construction on the first 20 mile segment situated in Kapolei and running to Ala Moana is expected to begin next year. A possible connection from the first segment to Honolulu Airport is also expected to begin around the same time.

The Mayor believes that the unanimous vote to fund the rail project further validates what he has said all along, "There is strong federal support for this project and we are on track to begin construction next year."

(Photo courtesy of AP)