You are here:  Main / Customer Services / Public Communications Division / 2010 / Obama Administration Backs Honolulu Rail Transit; Rail Project Included in FY2011 Federal Budget




(February 2, 2009) --- Taking another strong step towards providing $1.55 billion in federal funds for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project, President Barack Obama has included $55 million for the project in his FY2011 budget.


This latest funding installment under the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program supports the FTA’s expectation to provide $1.55 billion in federal funds to help build the Honolulu rail system. The FTA’s New Starts program provides major federal funding for new rail systems across the country, and Honolulu is listed to receive the largest amount of any city in the new full funding grant agreement category.


Mayor Mufi Hannemann was grateful for President Obama’s budget recommendation and said it shows the President and his administration continue to recognize the importance of the Honolulu rail project.


“It’s a great day for the city of Honolulu,” Hannemann said. “This is a major milestone for the Honolulu rail project, and shows the FTA’s continued confidence in and support of our project. As someone familiar with Hawaii, President Obama understands the need to provide transportation solutions for Oahu, as well as create jobs during this difficult recession,” Hannemann said.


“If the Federal Transit Administration felt this project was not financially viable and ultimately eligible to receive $1.55 billion, this federal funding request would not be included in the president’s budget,” Hannemann said. “This federal budget request validates the work to date on our elevated rail system’s engineering and financing.”


In a conference call this morning with local media, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff was quoted as saying that FTA expects Honolulu to be signed on for full funding by the end of the 2011 federal fiscal year.


Rogoff also stated during that he was “perplexed” at recent concerns about Honolulu’s rail project brought up by Governor Linda Lingle.


“We expect to continue to work with the City and County to continue to strengthen their financial plan and we will be evaluating a new financial plan when they make an application to go into final design,” Rogoff said.


Hannemann stated, “Our ongoing dialogue and face-to-face meetings with federal officials will continue to be a central part of our strategy and game plan.  This has proven to be a successful formula, and we’re pleased with the results thus far.  We will work with our partners in Washington to address all the issues every step along the way.” 


Hannemann said the latest funding request for the Honolulu project is significant since it comes from the Obama administration, which oversees the Federal Transit Administration. The Congress has appropriated $65 million in federal funding over the past three years for the Honolulu project, thanks to the strong support from advocates in the legislative branch such as Senator Daniel Inouye and US Representative James Oberstar.


In his introduction of the FY2011 federal transportation budget, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the federal government will invest in transportation projects that “create jobs in support of the economy while delivering projects that can best leverage our federal investment.”


Congressman Jim Oberstar, chair of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, recently called Honolulu’s rail program “the number one transportation project in America.”