Construction of rail operations center going smoothly while rail funding hits snag
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "The good news is here, this is the biggest critical path item and we're right where we want to be at this time."
HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas, along with Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, sounded upbeat when showing off the structures and rail already being laid down at HART's Rail Operations Center.
"This is where brains is going to be, this is where the computer's going to be located," said Caldwell.
While the center is currently on-time and on solid ground, future funding for the massive project is not. Bill 23, the five year extension of the general excise tax surcharge, still hasn't been passed by the City Council.
"We really do need that funding to complete the whole project," said Grabauskas.
"You have bidders who are starting to look to bid on the last 10 miles and the last 5 miles, and we need that surcharge to be extended or there won't be money to pay them," added Caldwell.
Despite their pleas for action, Council Chair Ernie Martin says the council is skeptical of the project, given the inflating cost projections and mounting delays.
"Before we proceed we want to make sure we have everything before us before we decide on the surcharge…I think the level of confidence the members have in the project has waned, significantly."
Martin is considering a proposal to cap the surcharge revenues to the rail deficit only. He says a timeline for the council to make a decision could last into the new year, something that doesn't sit well with the mayor.
"If we're into the opening of the legislature and we have not yet authorized the extension of the surcharge, and I'm very troubled by that," said Caldwell.
"At what point is somebody going to step in and hold those who need to be held accountable for the project?" responded Martin.
The City Council has until June 30, 2016 to make a decision on Bill 23.
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