Future Trump administration an unknown for Oahu's beleaguered rail project

Future Trump administration an unknown for Oahu's beleaguered rail project
Updated: Nov. 10, 2016 at 5:28 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Donald Trump's election poses new uncertainties for Honolulu's rail project, which is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

"With a Republican administration, a Republican-controlled Congress and Hawaii being a Democratic stronghold, the skeptic in me would be worried that with a Republican-appointed director of the Federal Transit Administration, that we would be subject to a higher level of scrutiny," said Terrence Lee, vice chairman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's board.

"We've had some criticism over whether we were mismanaging this project ... in particular the cost of this project."

But Lee said the recent hiring of Krishniah Murthy as HART's interim CEO could help address any concerns by FTA officials over the rail authority's management. Murthy, a longtime Los Angeles Metro executive, is well-regarded by the federal transit officials.

Lee and Mayor Kirk Caldwell said they're also encouraged by Trump's election night speech, where he talked about the need to invest in America's aging infrastructure. In that speech, Trump said he's committed to rebuilding "our highways, bridges, tunnels and airports, schools, hospitals."

Caldwell said, "I'm hopeful, I'm going to take him at his word that he's going to support infrastructure projects in all of the states including the 50th state."

The mayor said he doesn't expect any changes in the full funding agreement, in which the federal government has agreed to provide $1.55 billion to the project. But finding the money to pay for cost overruns and to finish the project is another matter.

"In terms of finding additional funding, we will try to do that. It would have been probably easier if the Senate was Democrat but it's worth the try," Caldwell said.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.