HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite ongoing concerns over construction of Honolulu’s beleaguered rail project, the Federal Transit Administration has approved the rail authority’s revised recovery plan.
“This is a significant milestone for our project,” said Andrew Robbins, executive director and CEO for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, in a statement. “I particularly want to thank the FTA and the officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation for their thorough review and approval of the HART recovery plan."
Robbins said the approval clears the way for the FTA to release the $744 million in federal funds that it previously withheld.
“Without this approval, receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars for the project would continue to be delayed,” Robbins said.
“We can now look forward to the day when those funds will again be available to the project following the award of the contract early next year to build the City Center section, and to operate and maintain the rail system for the next 30 years.”
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said this was welcome news, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the process.
“This is an important milestone that recognizes the work that the state and the city have done in getting this project to be more accountable and keep costs under control,” he said, in a statement.
“I will continue to work with our federal partners to make sure that we reach the finish line. We have a long way to go but this is good news.”
In June, HART CEO Andrew Robbins delivered the revised recovery plan to federal officials after the FTA raised major concerns about the cost of construction in a letter in March.
The cost of the rail project has skyrocketed from about $5.2 billion to about $9.2 billion.