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MAYOR HANNEMANN SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON RAIL FUNDING PLAN

 

Mayor Hannemann today reiterated that he plans to begin construction of Honolulu’s rail transit project after the City receives a Record of Decision from the Federal Transit Administration next year. The Record of Decision is a procedural milestone that will assure our eligibility for federal funding, and the City has received very strong indications that it stands to receive nearly $1 billion from the FTA for the $3.7 billion project.

 

“This has been my consistent position regarding federal funding from day one,” Mayor Hannemann said.

 

He said he greatly appreciates that Hawaii’s congressional delegation unanimously supports the rail transit plan and has been very effective at securing federal funding for the early stages.  The City received a $15.5 million federal appropriation last year to help pay for a key environmental study, and an additional $20 million is pending before Congress this year.

 

The delegation is fully cognizant of the project’s financial plan and has been unanimously supportive. The FTA has also been duly informed every step along the way, and has given no indication that Honolulu’s prospects for federal funding are weak in any way.

 

Just last week, Senator Daniel Inouye called the rail project “our best hope to reduce traffic gridlock” from west Oahu to Honolulu and beyond.

 

“It is a sound investment for Hawaii’s future,” Senator Inouye continued. “My only regret is that we did not proceed with rail transit in 1993 when it was first before the people of Honolulu.  Just think, we would have had a running rail system in place today.  We should not let this opportunity pass us by, again.”

 

Other key members of Congress have also been very supportive.

 

In March, Rep. Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, visited Honolulu and declared that he would “vigorously support” awarding $900 million in Federal Transit Administration funding for the project. He reiterated his strong support for Honolulu’s project to Mayor Hannemann at an August transit symposium in Denver.

 

Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he is very disappointed that former Governor Ben Cayetano has aligned himself with opponents of rail transit and attempted to create unwarranted controversy by making reckless public statements about the likelihood that Honolulu’s rail project will receive federal support.

 

“The former governor is wrong in accusing me of being deceptive about federal funding, and it’s very selfish and irresponsible for Cayetano to try to undermine all the hard work of Hawaii’s congressional delegation by injecting himself into an issue that he knows little about and had been completely absent from until recently,” Mayor Hannemann said in response to statements Cayetano made yesterday at a news conference with members of an anti-rail group.

 

“Frankly, their blustery news conference yesterday presented no actual news, because nothing has changed regarding the favorable status of our transit plan,” Mayor Hannemann said. “Their news conference was simply a desperate and shameful attempt to manufacture controversy. Our very effective congressional delegation came through consistently for Ben when he was governor, and they have been coming through for Honolulu during my time as Mayor.”

 

“We have seen nothing but green lights from the federal government, so it really makes no sense for Cayetano to wade into this issue now with such a negative and pessimistic attitude,” Mayor Hannemann said.

 

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Contact: Bill Brennan, 527-6928

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

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