FTA emails share concerns of rail opponents, Cayetano claims

Ben Cayetano
Ben Cayetano
Senator Daniel Inouye
Senator Daniel Inouye

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ben Cayetano has released some damaging emails written by the federal government.  Emails he's using to show the Federal Transit Administration shares some of his anti-rail concerns.  The emails were part of internal communication between workers within the FTA and were handed over as part of the anti-rail lawsuit against the city.

Cayetano reloaded his arsenal against the city's rail project and using the federal government's words to bolster his case.

"We seem to be proceeding in the hallowed tradition of Honolulu rapid transit studies: never enough time to do it right, but lots of time to do it over," wrote James Ryan, FTA employee to three other FTA employees in 2006.

"These emails to me clearly support that they were rushing the project along in 2006 and thereafter," said Cayetano, during a press conference revealing the emails.

Cayetano says the city was rushing because of the public vote on rail and used inaccurate information to sway voters and he claims the FTA agreed.

"This is different. This time they have a huge cash flow which will build something. It seems likely that we will get involved in litigation again especially since we have an erroneous NOI (Notice of Intent) out there.  I do not think the FTA should be associated with their lousy practices of public manipulation and we should call them on it," wrote Raymond Sukys, to four FTA employees.

"This isn't an FTA issue. Let the city deal with it. They have produced 3 failed projects and are well on their way to a fourth, so why is FTA wasting time on the City's problems?" responded Joseph Ossi to the previous email.

"That to me is a telling statement in the way the city has put a spin on everything they have done with respect to rail," said Cayetano.  "This thing is all messed up. This is the most mismanaged project I've ever seen in my 28 years in public office."

A lot has changed since these emails were written and the Federal Transit Administration is allowing the city to proceed which they wouldn't have done if the project was doomed.  But Cayetano claims the only reason the rail hasn't been rejected by the FTA is because of Senator Daniel Inouye's influence in Washington.

"It didn't mean the FTA gave the green light. All it means is that the FTA has said to the city if you want to spend your own money go ahead but we are not putting any money into the project until we have a full funding agreement," said Cayetano.

The city released a statement approved by the Federal Transit Administration in response to Cayetano's claims.

"There is no question that this project has overcome early obstacles because of a much improved Federal partnership with the City of Honolulu and State of Hawaii over the last several years.  The Federal Transit Administration believes that this project will bring much needed relief from the suffocating congestion on the H-1 Freeway and provide a real transportation alternative for the people of Oahu as gas prices rise," said the Federal Transit Administration in the statement.

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