As tax revenues drop, Honolulu’s rail project faces a gaping funding shortfall and new delays

As tax revenues drop, Honolulu’s rail project faces a gaping funding shortfall and new delays
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lost tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a nearly $500 million shortfall for Honolulu’s already-beleaguered rail project, its chief financial officer said.

The rail project is funded mostly by excise and hotel taxes ― both of which have been decimated by the collapse in tourism and the overall economic crisis.

At a meeting Thursday, the HART board was told revenue could be $450 million less than expected over the next decade.

“We are looking at possibly $300- to $450 (million) but again it all depends on how long the timeframe for the economy to recover,” said HART Chief Financial Officer Ruth Lohr.

HART Chairman Toby Martin urged Lohr to be conservative with her numbers so that “people understand the gravity of our situation.”

The board was also told that the expected date of final completion has been moved back several more months ― to March 2026.

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