City Council grills rail officials over delays through urban core

Published: Feb. 6, 2020 at 5:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - City Councilmembers grilled rail officials Thursday over the progress of the 20-mile project, raising concerns about delays through Kalihi and Downtown.

But rail officials wanted them to focus on the start of the project’s interim service at the end of the year.

“The actual interim service between East Kapolei and Aloha Stadium, the target at the moment, subject to budget deliberations, would be the end of December," said Andrew Robbins, CEO for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

During a hearing of the Council’s Transportation Committee, city officials said the trains will run every 10 minutes, seven days a week, between five in the morning and 10 at night.

But Councilmembers expressed concerns about the progress of construction beyond the stadium.

Several asked why it was taking so long award a contract for a public-private partnership to build the final, four-mile downtown segment of the route, which will likely be the most expensive segment of the project.

The Federal Transit Administration is withholding the release of $100 million in construction funding pending the award of the public-private partnership contract.

“We’ve had delays in the awarding of a contract and as long as we encounter these kinds of delays, that ties up and delays the FTA ultimately approving this and releasing the federal funding that’s needed," said Councilmember Ron Menor.

Added Councilmember Tommy Waters:

“My concern is that is the FTA OK with that? Are we at risk of being in default?" Waters said.

The council is also worried about delay in relocating utilities along Dillingham Boulevard. The rail officials told them they’re still waiting for approvals from the city before they can ramp up the work.

HART added that in order to get interim service going, the council needs to approve funding to operate and maintain the rail.

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