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(Honolulu, March 13, 2010)- Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced today that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will meet next week with City and State officials to work to conclude the federal review of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.


The Federal Aviation Administration and FTA have been coordinating their final review of the FEIS since last year to accommodate the rail system near the Honolulu International Airport.  Newly adopted federal aviation regulations have made the review more complex and challenging, but the City has been cooperating with those agencies and State airport officials.


 “I was happy when FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff called this week to advise me that his agency is scheduling a special meeting in Honolulu next Wednesday to resolve this situation.  I understand FAA and FTA are sending their technical people to meet with the State and City to inform us of their analysis and to thoroughly discuss the best approach to move forward. Rest assured that I will have my A-team of technical transit professionals at this session.


“It is our expectation that no more studies or analyses will be needed after the meeting, since this issue will have been thoroughly examined. All parties are committed to completing the FEIS for release. We are optimistic that, shortly after the conclusion of the airport issue, the FTA will authorize the release of the FEIS,” Hannemann said.


Mayor Hannemann has personally discussed the situation with the top FAA and FTA officials.  The Mayor was assured by FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff while in Washington, D.C. that potential solutions would be offered to the City soon.


 “I am very pleased that we are in the home stretch of the FEIS,” said Mayor Hannemann. “We have been taking additional time as requested by a few federal agencies to ensure the thoroughness of the rail FEIS. We are not ignoring the EIS process as the State did with the Hawaii Superferry.


“Further delays in the rail transit project are unacceptable.  This is the only shovel-ready public works project in Hawaii that will significantly relieve future traffic congestion and start creating jobs this year,” Hannemann said. “The state’s fiscal situation continues to suffer, putting a strain on vital services for our community, such as education. Timely groundbreaking of rail construction cannot help but move us forward economically.”


Hannemann noted that City and federal review shows the FEIS will verify the Draft Environmental Impact Statement’s (DEIS) estimate of about 10,000 jobs a year created by rail transit construction. “Job creation is critical during this recession. We want to ensure the most accurate figures possible are in the FEIS.”


The FEIS re-examined job creation using data from the U.S. Department of Commerce that is specific to the City and County of Honolulu; in contrast, the DEIS utilized more general data from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism that encompassed the entire state.


“Confirming that rail construction will create an estimated 10,000 jobs a year is great news for our struggling economy,” said Hannemann. “Unemployment is near a 30-year peak. Rail construction can put thousands of residents back to work this year. Local families and businesses urgently need the economic boost that rail can provide, and the emergence of Transit Oriented Development will enable livable communities to flourish.”