Schatz secures deadline extension for $250M in federal funds for Honolulu rail project

Honolulu rail
Honolulu rail(HART)
Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 8:14 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz on Tuesday announced that a deal was passed that would extend the deadline for a $250 million funding grant for the Honolulu rail project.

The federal funding was set to lapse at the end of this year, but the appropriations bill extends the deadline to the end of next year.

“This will provide the rail project some needed breathing room while HART and the city look for additional sources of funds to complete the construction of the rail system,” said Andrew Robbins, executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Robbins is referring to the financial plan that HART and the city still must submit to the Federal Transit Administration.

“My objective was to prevent the loss of these federal dollars,” Schatz said, in a statement. “While this extension buys them more time, HART and the city must now revise their financial plan and come back with something that can actually work. They now have an opportunity to focus on what is most important — developing a clear-eyed plan for the people of Honolulu.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, along with Robbins, recently wrote a letter to the FTA, asking for an extension.

“So we’ve come back together,” Caldwell told Hawaii News Now last week. “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.

This story will be updated.

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