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Mayor Mufi Hannemann today announced that the City has reached a key federal milestone that will move the rail transit project toward Preliminary Engineering.


“This is great news, and we are good to go,” Mayor Hannemann said. “This should help clear the air.  I’ve always said that we won’t begin construction without a Record of Decision, and the milestone we reached today helps clear the way for that to eventually happen.”


The Federal Transit Administration notified the City at 11 a.m. today that Project Management Oversight Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton has rendered its “professional opinion that the City has demonstrated that it has the technical capacity and capability to implement the (Preliminary Engineering) phase of project development.”


City Rapid Transit Division Chief Toru Hamayasu said, “What this means is that they have validated the findings in our Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  This is the second time that an FTA oversight contractor has reached a positive conclusion about our rail transit project.  Earlier, another contractor concluded that the City’s financial plan for the project is sound and reasonable.”


Mayor Hannemann stressed that construction would not require any increases to real property taxes.  He noted that Hawaii’s entire Congressional Delegation today underscored its solid support for the project, and remains fully committed to securing the necessary federal funding.


In a rare joint news release, the delegation “reaffirmed its support for federal funding – whether the amount is $1 billion or $1.5 billion – for rail transit for Oahu.”


Mayor Hannemann stressed that no environmental study has been conducted for an alternative proposal based on elevated busway concept, which would not qualify for FTA funding, other federal appropriations, or the state General Excise Tax surcharge that will help fund the rail project.


“For City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi to continue to claim that federal funding the Congressional Delegation has already secured or is now working on could be transferred to her ‘plan’ is a patently false statement,” Mayor Hannemann said.


He noted that Senator Daniel Inouye stated in a Nov. 2 editorial published in the Honolulu Advertiser that those funds “can’t be transferred to a highway-based alternative such as the proposed EzWay plan, which would have to start the process from square one.”


“I did some checking whether the funds appropriated can be used for this purpose, and everything I look at suggests to me it can’t,” Senator Inouye told the newspaper.


            “I’m very disappointed that there has been a deliberate attempt to create fear and confusion about rail transit,” Mayor Hannemann said. “This project is very important for our future, our quality of life, our economy and our environment, and it’s a shame that anyone would attempt to sabotage it for selfish reasons.”


            He reiterated that the City moved as expeditiously as possible to release the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement early, after receiving approval from the FTA to do so.





Contact: Bill Brennan, 527-6928

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

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