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(Mon., July 26, 2010)—Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell today thanked U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye for his leadership in securing approval of $55 million for preliminary engineering and final design of Honolulu’s rail transit project.


            “Once again, Senator Inouye has come through for the people of Hawaii,” Caldwell said. “The rail project is vital for our economy and our future, and this money will help ensure its success. This project will put thousands of our people back to work, spur private investment in transit-oriented development, help curb the growth of traffic congestion, and provide an important and affordable alternative to clogged freeways and overflowing parking lots.”


            Sen. Inouye chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, which today approved the rail transit money as part of a $70 million appropriation for transportation, housing and urban development projects in Hawaii. The appropriations bill must also be approved by the full Senate and a conference committee with the House.


            The $55 million was included in President Obama’s budget and supports the Federal Transit Administration’s anticipated $1.55 billion contribution toward building the Honolulu rail system. Congress has already appropriated $65 million for the rail system.


            The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the rail project has been completed and released for public review after careful scrutiny by the Federal Transit Administration. The FEIS is now awaiting acceptance by Gov. Linda Lingle.


There are strong indications the rail project is on firm financial footing. Two major rail construction contracts awarded by the City totaled approximately $150 million less than had been projected, and the City received 99.6 percent of anticipated revenue from the General Excise Tax surcharge through Fiscal Year 2010.


Congressman Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, this month publicly referred to Honolulu’s rail project “the premier transit project in the entire country.” Oberstar personally visited Honolulu in 2008 to review the rail route, and characterized the project then as “one of the most exciting projects in the whole country.”




Media contact: Johnny Brannon, Mayor’s Office, 768-5767