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(Washington, D.C., February 26, 2010) Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Honolulu City Council Chair Todd Apo met today at the US Department of Transportation in Washington with the FTA Administrator, Peter Rogoff to discuss the progress of the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.

"Our meeting was productive," Hannemann said. "We discussed the status of the FEIS and we were assured by Administrator Rogoff of the FTA's commitment for expeditious processing of our rail transit project." 

 The Administrator stated that he is working quickly and aggressively with the Federal Aviation Administration to reach a resolution on the rail alignment through the airport, and he expects that to happen shortly.

"Administrator Rogoff emphasized that the FEIS is a FTA document and it will be released when the FAA issue is resolved," Hannemann said. 

Administrator Rogoff stated that FTA is not requiring the City to revisit or change its financial plan.  FTA has included $55 million in the Obama administration's budget for the project for next fiscal year, and expects to agree to invest a total amount of $1.55 billion in Honolulu Rail. Rogoff reiterated FTA's standard policy to review an updated financial plan when the City is ready to apply to enter into the Final Design phase of the project later this year.

Rogoff also mentioned Governor Lingle's recent visit to Washington, where she proposed a joint financial review of Honolulu's project between the State and FTA.  Rogoff said he rejected the suggestion because the FTA review must be independent and covers a different purpose and time frame. 

Rogoff addressed Council Chair Apo's inquiries regarding the timing of the FEIS review and FTA's coordination with the State process.

Hannemann and Apo also met today with Senator Dan Akaka. Hannemann thanked Senator Akaka for his vote yesterday on the Travel Promotion Act. Hannemann, at the invitation of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, witnessed the overwhelming final 78-18 vote approving the bill from the Senate gallery. Hannemann, as chair of the US Conference of Mayors Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports Committee, had lobbied vigorously for its passage.  

"Our two senators, Inouye and Akaka, were very instrumental to the passage of this important piece of legislation," Hannemann said. "Senator Akaka noted that while he served as a member of the House of Representatives, they tried unsuccessfully on several occasions to pass such a measure.  There's no doubt in my mind this will provide a needed boost to our slumping tourism industry, which relies heavily on international travelers."

Hannemann is scheduled to return to Honolulu tomorrow.