HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) has three months to submit its revised plans for the rail to federal officials for funding.
The new plan shortens the route by more than a mile and removes two stations, HART said the changes were necessary to afford the project and get it on track.
For now, the final Honolulu rail stop will be at Civic Center, which is between Halekauwila and South Streets. HART’s Executive Director and CEO Lori Kahikina said the ultimate goal is still to reach Ala Moana Center.
At least for now, the rail has an estimated time of arrival.
Kahikina said, “Assuming there are no issues we can hand this over before the end of the year, and I am really hoping people can start riding before the end of the year.”
Those stops are from Kapolei and Aloha Stadium. But to get there, a list of approvals is needed within months.
Federal transportation officials are on Oahu inspecting the project. It is part of a recovery plan needed to be submitted no later than June 30. But before submitting the documents to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the HART’s board and the Honolulu City Council will need to approve them.
Kahikina said, “The key thing to keep in mind, is we’re not just submitting something on June 30 blind to the FTA, they’re hand in hand all the way.”
Kahikina said documents drafts are being submitted to the FTA and the board ahead of the June 30 deadline, that way there will not be any surprises once the final recovery plan is sent. She said that could lead to a better chance of getting those plans approved, and receiving the $744 million dollars in FTA funding.
The revised plan includes 19 stations instead of the original 21, and the rail will not reach Ala Moana Center under the revised plan.
But the City Council’s Committee on Transportation Chair Radiant Cordero said Ala Moana should still be the last stop.
Cordero said, “It’s more an opportunity to really push harder to find other types of funding to get those two stations constructed planned construction, and operating in the future.”
Kahikina said the money to build the last two train stations is not there at this time. But she agrees that the rail should reach Ala Moana Center.
Establishments that were torn down years ago to make way for the rail, those properties will still be needed.
Kahikina said, “the goal is to get to Ala Moana, that’s why I am saying the properties all along the area we’re still going to need them because we’re still going to get to Ala Moana.”
The $330 million Pearl Highlands parking garage project was also deferred due to funding constraints. HART still wants to build a parking garage, possibly at a location that will cost less to build.
After years of delays, the $9.1 billion project is moving forward.
The utility relocations designs for the downtown area are completed and approved. And issues with the car-trains wheels and rails are getting fixed.
“We actually hired specialized welders from the mainland,” Kahikina said. “They’ve been here for the last three weeks and within the next two weeks all of the welding to fill that gap will be completed.”
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The Honolulu rail is expected to reach Civic Center by 2030.