$250 million for rail clears U.S. Senate committee

Daniel Grabauskas
Daniel Grabauskas

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The check isn't in the mail, but the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations has passed a measure that includes $250 million for Oahu's rail project.

"It's great news," said Daniel Grabauskas, CEO for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART).

The announcement Thursday from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the bill 28 to 1.

Grabauskas said if he gets the money, he'll watch every penny.

"Every cost we can reduce we're reducing. Every cost that we can minimize, we're going to minimize. And every advantage that we can take to do more with less, we will do that," he said.

President Barrack Obama requested the money for rail in his 2013 budget, the most for any rail project in the country.

But rail critics said HART shouldn't count on the cash. The bill faces a tough test when it goes to the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives, where the focus is on cutting the deficit.

"You've got this perception, I think a correct perception, but a perception in the House that this rail project in Hawaii is never going to get built," Randal Roth said.

Grabauskas isn't saying the money's in the bank, but he is optimistic it will come through.

"Our goal is to get our full-funding grant application in shortly," he said. "And then, hopefully, we'll get the positive news from the federal government later this year. And that will give us the carte blanche to move forward."

In a statement. Inouye thanked his colleagues. As committee chair, he pledged to do everything he can to secure funding for rail to ensure its completion.

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