City officials to reassure feds on Honolulu rail


HONOLULU (AP) — Top Honolulu officials plan to reassure federal transportation officials that the city’s multibillion-dollar rail project is still on, even after a court decision stopped construction.

A delegation that includes Mayor Peter Carlisle and city council chairman Ernie Martin has a meeting scheduled for next Thursday with the Federal Transit Administration in Washington. It comes after the Hawaii Supreme Court ordered the city to stop construction and complete an archaeological survey of the rail’s 20-mile route.

The meeting comes after the city submitted an application to the FTA seeking $1.55 billion in federal funds for the $5 billion project.

The city has predicted that it could take nine months to complete the survey — possibly longer if the city can’t persuade property owners along the rail route to grant access to conduct the survey.

Each month of delays costs an estimated $7 million to $10 million, and the city has already paid more than $22 million in contractor delay claims unrelated to the court case.

The delegation will brief FTA officials on progress on the archaeological survey, as well as on continuing engineering and design work, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation executive director Daniel Grabauskas said.

“Our main goal is to discuss our Full Funding Grant Agreement submittal, which is on track and moving through the approval process,” Grabauskas said in a statement.

The project also faces other political and legal challenges.

A group of opponents, including former Gov. Ben Cayetano, has filed a separate lawsuit, arguing the environmental impact statement for the train system doesn’t comply with federal law.

Cayetano, who is running for mayor, has promised to stop the rail project if he is elected. In November, he’ll face Kirk Caldwell, a rail project supporter who is the former managing director of the city and county.

Carlisle, who has been a strong rail supporter, finished third in the August primary election and will leave office in January.

 

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