HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today informed Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Executive Director and CEO Andrew Robbins that it has approved the HART Recovery Plan for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.
“This is a significant milestone for our project,” said Robbins. “I particularly want to thank the FTA and the officials at the US Department of Transportation for their thorough review and approval of the HART Recovery Plan. In addition, thanks go to HART and City of Honolulu staff who worked hard to incorporate the changes FTA required to achieve today’s approval.”
Robbins said the Recovery Plan approval clears the way for the FTA to release $744 million that is part of the city’s Full Funding Grant Agreement with the federal government.
“Without this approval, receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars for the project would continue to be delayed,” Robbins said. “We can now look forward to the day when those funds will again be available to the project following the award of the contract early next year to build the City Center section, and to operate and maintain the rail system for the next 30 years.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said, “The FTA’s approval of HART’s recovery
plan is more positive news for the project, and of particular importance is that any future public-private partnership for the last 4 miles from Middle Street to Ala Moana Center must either be equal to or less than the cost estimates submitted and approved by the Recovery Plan. It also underscores that construction of rail is currently being paid for by three main sources – Oahu’s 0.5% surcharge to the general excise tax, a 1% increase to the hotel room tax, and the $1.55 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement, of which the recovery plan is a vital part. Counter to what opponents of the rail project continue to claim, the city remains on solid financial footing. The city subsidy towards construction of the project is limited to $214 million in CIP funds as stated in the Recovery Plan and has already been approved by the City Council. The next step is for HART to successfully engage a P3 partner to build rail from Middle Street to Ala Moana. I will continue to demand transparency while this effort moves forward as this project is of significant importance to all of the people of O‘ahu.”
Honolulu City Council Chair Ikaika Anderson added, “FTA’s announcement of the approval of the recovery plan for the transit project is welcome news to all. While the refinement, review and ultimate approval has been a long process, today’s FTA response is an encouraging sign that HART is slowly overcoming the missteps of the past and the rail project is on its way to completion. It’s important we recognize the collective efforts of HART, FTA, PMOC and the Council in achieving today’s outcome”
The HART Board of Directors gave its approval to the Revised Recovery Plan in early June. Board Chair Damien Kim said, “I’m excited to hear the good news the Recovery Plan was accepted and signed. Thanks to HART, my colleagues on the Board, Mayor Caldwell, City Council Chair Anderson, and City Council for their contributions in making this happen. Now let’s keep moving forward with this project and get it done as promised. “