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MAYOR HANNEMANN ANNOUNCES HISTORIC MILESTONE IN HONOLULU RAIL TRANSIT PROJECT: RELEASE OF FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

(Honolulu, 14 June 10)- Mayor Mufi Hannemann today announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project for release.

 

“I am so very proud to be part of this historic day in Honolulu,” said Mayor Hannemann. “With the release of the rail transit Final EIS, we are poised to move forward with rail transit, create jobs and deliver long-term traffic relief to commuters and businesses between West Oahu and town.”

 

“The document is the result of five years of public input, in-depth consultations with stakeholders and meticulous technical research. With such a thorough planning process, we are confident the document accurately identifies environmental, community and economic benefits and impacts of the rail system and proposed solutions,” Hannemann said.

 

Mayor Hannemann noted, “The Lingle-Aiona administration has plans to conduct a state financial review of the rail project. This is unnecessary in our view and will only delay a timely acceptance for a project that will create thousands of jobs in our state when the economy needs them the most.”

 

“The FTA has already performed several rigorous independent financial reviews and risk assessments of the Project with oversight contractors like Jacobs Engineering, Booz Allen Hamilton and Ben Porter and Associates in 2009. Moreover, the FTA will perform another financial review when the Project applies to enter Final Design later this year. And the Hawaii Business Roundtable has previously reviewed the rail transit financial plan and deemed it to be sound.”

 

The Honolulu Rail Transit Project is a 20-mile elevated rail system connecting East Kapolei with Ala Moana Center. There are 21 stations in communities such as Waipahu, Pearl City, Aiea, Kalihi, Chinatown, downtown and Kakaako. There are stations at activity centers such as UH West Oahu, Leeward Community College, Pearl Highlands, Pearlridge, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu International Airport and Honolulu Community College.

 

Tomorrow, the executive summary of the Final EIS will be posted on the rail project website – www.honolulutransit.org. The entire document will be posted on the rail transit website later this week. It will be available at the City municipal library and the office of the City’s Department of Transportation Services.

 

Copies will be available soon at all Hawaii state public libraries.

 

The Final EIS is being distributed to participating government agencies and everyone who commented on the Draft EIS during the comment period.

 

The City also plans to release a free DVD with the document and a video guide to the Final EIS. The DVD can be obtained by contacting the rail project at 566-2299 or info@honolulutransit.org.

 

Highlights of key benefits and impacts identified in the Final EIS include:

 

Ridership and Future Traffic Reduction

 

·       The Final EIS anticipates weekday rail ridership will be 116,300 passengers in 2030.

 

·       Rail transit will reduce traffic delay by approximately 18 percent in 2030 compared to conditions if the rail system is not built.

 

·       Using figures in the Final EIS, the project team estimates the rail system will take approximately 40,000 cars off our roads every day in 2030.

 

Economic Impacts

 

·       Rail construction will employ about 10,000 workers in direct, indirect and induced jobs every year.

  

Environmental Impacts

 

·       Rail transit will pose no substantial impact to threatened, endangered or protected species along the route.

 

·       Energy consumption will be reduced in the future, as will air and water pollution, because of rail. The rail project will reduce regional pollutant emissions between 4 and 5 percent, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Visual Impacts

 

·       The elevated guideway will introduce a new linear visual element to the corridor. Changes to views will be low to significant.

 

·       The guideway and stations will be dominant elements in views near the Project while viewpoints farther away would be less affected.

 

·       The Final EIS discusses visual impacts along the route, including impacts to sensitive viewplanes in Chinatown, downtown and Kakaako.

 

Right-of-Way Acquisitions

 

·       The elevated guideway will have a smaller land use footprint than constructing new highways and roads, digging tunnels, widening roadways or building at-grade rail.

 

·       There will be 40 full property acquisitions and 159 partial acquisitions.

 

·       All affected property owners have been notified by the City. Relocation and compensation at fair market value will be provided to affected property owners, businesses, and residents in compliance with federal and state laws.

 

Noise and Vibration Impacts

 

·       No severe noise impacts are expected.

 

·       With mitigation measures, there will be no noise impacts. No vibration effects are anticipated.

 

Historic Properties Impact

 

·       Thirty-three historic properties will be impacted by the Project. In some cases, the effect means the rail line will be visible from the property.

 

·       The Final EIS also discusses the Project’s effect on parks, recreational areas and historic properties to support determinations required to comply with the provisions of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act of 1966.

 

·       The City is finalizing a Programmatic Agreement (PA) with state and federal agencies that outlines measures to mitigate potential historical and cultural impacts. As part of the PA, the Project is providing substantial funding for the preservation of historic buildings along the rail route.

 

·       Three agencies – the FTA, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the City’s Department of Transportation Services – have agreed to the PA. The City continues to work on the PA with the State Historic Preservation Officer, who is the head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, regarding the Officer’s concerns about the Project.

 

Mayor Hannemann said, “Today we delivered a copy of the Final EIS to the state Office of Environmental Quality Control for review. After its review, that office will make a recommendation to the Governor on acceptance of the Final EIS.”

 

“We’ve come this far in five short years when it usually takes municipalities as long as 14 years to reach this point. And we’ve been able to enjoy this success because it has been a community-wide collaboration. So many people got on board with this effort: the members of the Legislature who granted us the local funding mechanism and have continually supported rail; our Congressional delegation, who delivered consistent support and appropriated federal funding; a City Council that provided input and leadership every step of the way; the news media; labor and business organizations; the Obama administration, Federal Transit Administration, and other federal partners that have helped us and pledged funding; and others who joined hands to make this a reality for all of us.”

 

“Now, with the support and cooperation of the state, the final piece can be put in place and we can break ground to bring to pass what the people of Oahu voted for in 2008 – a rail transit system that we need and want.”

 

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Media contact: Bill Brennan, Mayor’s Office, 768-6928