Future of rail project uncertain with $250M in federal funding still up in the air

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Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 9:14 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There is still concern that $250 million in federal funding for the Honolulu rail project will lapse by the end of the year.

“The FDA said if we didn’t present to them a way to build all the way at all to Ala Moana, this 250 million could lapse. And there’s a lot of concern, we do not want that to happen,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

Caldwell emphasized the importance of the funding, especially with the financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

Caldwell, along with Andrew Robbins, CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transformation, wrote a letter to the Federal Transit Administration, asking for an extension.

A state congressional delegation letter was also submitted.

“So we’ve come back together,” Caldwell said. “I think the FTA really wanted to see that that both the entity, HART and the city were working together.”

Caldwell and Robbins were not always on the same page. The two were in a stand-off over the public-private partnership.

Up until recently, Robbins argued P3 was the best way to build that final leg and operate and maintain it. But the city disagreed, saying bids came way over estimates.

The project is having difficulty with the city-center portion of the rail going from Kalihi to Ala Moana.

HART and the city had different estimates of cost and completion.

The city suggested a reasonable timeline for completion of the final leg would be in 2033, with Hart predicting completion five years earlier.

There is now a fourth procurement for the final portion of the rail.

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