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U.S. Department of Transportation Releases $236,277,358 in Federal Funds for Honolulu Rail Project

Today, Senator Schatz announced the release $236,277,358  in federal funds for the Honolulu Rail Transit project.  This U.S. Department of Transportation funding will be used to continue building Hawai‘i’s first light rail system.

The very first Honolulu Rail Column 45 (Copyright Iopa Maunakea use with permission only)

The very first Honolulu Rail Column (Copyright Iopa Maunakea use with permission only)

“Federal funding for the rail project continues to flow and we continue to receive assurance from the DOT and the FTA that it is full speed ahead,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “After 40 years in the making, the rail project is now quickly progressing and I will continue to work towards making a rail system in Hawai‘i a reality.”

Senator Schatz serves on the Surface Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Earlier this year, Senator Schatz met with Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Transit Administrator Pete Rogoff to receive their commitment to defend Honolulu rail transit’s funding.

 

Hawaii Awarded $23 Million From FAA and FTA for Airport Projects

Today, Senator Brian Schatz announced seven grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) totaling more than $23 million for Hawai‘i including funding for airport projects in Honolulu, Kaunakakai, and Lanai City.

HNL

“The FAA and FTA have made transportation in Hawai‘i a priority, and the grants announced today are evidence of that,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “I have confirmed through conversations with Transportation Secretary Foxx and Federal Transit Administration Administrator Rogoff  that our state will continue to receive funding for critical improvements, allowing Hawai‘i to continue to grow as a tourist destination and economic center.”

The grants include:

  • Runway pavement rehab: $10,522,090 from the FAA for Phase II, rehabilitation of existing runway pavement at the Honolulu International Airport that is needed to maintain structural integrity of the pavement and to minimize foreign object debris.
  • Bus replacement: $3,440,000 from the FTA for the purchase of replacement buses for the County of Hawaii transit agency, the County of Maui Transportation Department, and the County of Kauai Transportation Department. The new buses will also have improved access for mobility limited passengers and patrons with bicycles. This project was selected on a competitive basis from the State of Good Repair Program and project selection was announced August 2012. The funds are now being obligated for the project.
  • Airport drainage improvements: $3,022,148 from the FAA for Phase II, construction of airport drainage improvements at the Molokai Airport in Kaunakakai. The drainage improvements are necessary to adequately handle stormwater runoff.
  • Additional airport pavement upgrades: $2,500,000 from the FAA to update the Pavement Management Program for the seven-primary and one-reliever airport within the State of Hawaii. The project is needed to establish the current condition of the airfield pavement and to address how the airfield pavement will be maintained or upgraded to acceptable levels.
  • Hangar rehab: $2,074,869 from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program for Phase II rehabilitation of Hangar 110 at Kalaeloa Airport (John Rodgers Field) in Honolulu.
  • Airport runway lighting: $1,041,930 from the FAA to rehabilitate the runway lighting system that has reached the end of its useful life at the Lanai Airport in Lanai City. The project is necessary to enhance safe airfield operations during low visibility conditions and to meet Federal Aviation Regulations Part 139 requirements.
  • Study of airport system needs: $904,500 from the FAA to conduct a state system plan study to evaluate the existing airport system and identify airport development needs.

 

Big Island Will Purchase Three New Buses with Federal Grant Money

I mentioned the other day that the State of Hawaii was going to receive $8.44 Million in Federal funding for new buses and that $1.2 million of it would be going to the Big Island.

Mayor Kenoi announced the following today how Hawaii County would allot that funding:

The County of Hawai‘i will receive $1.2 million in grant money to purchase three new buses for its Hele-On fleet.

The money comes from the Federal Transit Administration State of Good Repair grant program. The modern buses will replace three older ones being retired from the Hele-On fleet, which features 51 buses carrying 1.2 million passengers a year all around Hawai‘i Island.

Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi said the county plans to purchase 49-passenger motor coaches to improve and expand upon its island-wide bus service. The new buses will be wheelchair accessible, air-conditioned, and equipped with bicycle racks.

“These funds will go a long way in helping us improve our transportation services,” said Mayor Kenoi. “They will replace buses that are over 17 years old.” Mayor Kenoi said U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye was instrumental in securing this grant.

“The buses we will purchase will provide a more comfortable and enjoyable riding experience for our residents,” said Mayor Kenoi. “We would like to thank Senator Inouye for his assistance in obtaining the funds for this project.”

A key strategic goal of the federal Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration is to assist municipalities with the improvement and maintenance of America’s buses and bus facilities. About $650 million has been made available by the Federal Transit Administration to improve the condition of transit equipment across the nation.

Congressional Candidate Bob Marx… “Rail is the Least Worries”

Today marked the first concrete pouring for Honolulu’s rail project, but according to Bob Marx, candidate for Hawaiʻi’s Second Congressional District, “Rail is the least of worries [for the State].” Honolulu’s rail project is now projected to cost over US $5 Billion, according to the project-financing plan prepared for the Federal Transit Administration.

Congressional Candidate Bob Marx

Honolulu’s rail project is billed as a way to reduce traffic congestion on the freeways and generate local jobs, but research done shows that these claims are at best dubious. According to the final Environmental Impact Statement for the project, whether rail is built or not, population growth will add around 476,000 cars to the road by 2030. The rail project would reduce congestion by an insignificant 1.3%.

Speaking to a group of supporters in University Heights Thursday evening, Marx stated, “Spending over five billion on rail for one city is a waste of money, considering the various other transportation problems we have on the neighbor islands.” Forty-seven percent of rail funding comes from an excise tax increase for all Oʻahu residents, yet very few residents living on Oʻahu will benefit from the rail project. Despite this fact, even people who do not live in the area served by rail will still be paying for Honolulu’s bloated project.

Rural roads in the state of Hawaiʻi are ranked among the poorest in the nation. In September 2011, a report published by TRIP, a non-profit national transportation research group, ranked 29% of Hawaiʻi’s rural roads in poor condition. The report also ranked 16% of bridges in Rural Hawaiʻi as structurally deficient. Furthermore, poor planning and design of roads leads to increased accidents and traffic fatalities. According to a state report, in the County of Hawaiʻi, Highway 130 has accident rate nearly twice the state average, and 66% of accidents are fatalities. Marx stated that “traffic accidents in our communities can be prevented with regular maintenance and improvements to our roads…If elected, I will ensure that Hawaiʻi’s roads are improved.” With the $5 billion allocated to the rail project, the DOT could instead update transportation infrastructure, and road fatalities could be significantly reduced. For example, the same report stated that with $138 million in funds, the accident rate on Highway 130 could be reduced by 25%.

It is not just the roads that need improvement. The State of Hawaiʻi imports 80% of all its goods, and harbors in Hawaiʻi account for 98% of imports. “Our harbors need to grow as population increases, and improvements to the most needed sites in Kawaihae and Hilo will cost $423 million. Whereas these projects are essential to Hawaiʻi’s growth, the Honolulu Rail project costs significantly more and produces exponentially less benefit,” Marx said.

With more pressing transportation concerns throughout the state, one might ask why the Rail project is being built at all. Marx criticized proponents of rail as “individuals beholden to special interests.” Of the expenditures to date on the Rail Project, over $90 million was paid to Parsons Brinkerhoff, an international engineering and management firm. According to FEC campaign contribution reports, Parsons Brinkerhoff has regularly contributed large amounts of money to Mufi Hannemann, the former Honolulu mayor who initiated the Rail Project and is now running for Congress in the Second District.

When discussing the frivolity of the rail project, Marx remarked, “The rail project is a waste of money, we have real problems to solve in this state. Unlike [Hannemann], I am not beholden to any special interests. I have not taken any money from PACs. If elected, I will represent the people—that is what congress should do, that’s what I will do.”

Sumitomo Files Formal Protest Regarding Winning Bid on Part of the Honolulu Rail Project

Media Release:

Sumitomo Corporation of America (SCOA) filed a formal protest today regarding the selection of the winning bid for the Core Systems DBOM (Design, Build, Operate and Maintain) part of the Honolulu rail project.

“We regret having to take this action. It is not how we normally respond to bid outcomes,” said Gino Antoniello, Vice President, Transportation Systems and Equipment, SCOA. “However, we are working with many local partners and our team includes several Honolulu-based companies. We owe it both to ourselves and to them to challenge what we believe to be a wrong decision.”

Antoniello went on to explain: “Our concerns have only intensified following our debriefing meeting with the City last Monday and as we thoroughly reviewed the documents that were made available to us. The failure of the City to recognize and properly take into account the cost of the project over its total life-cycle will leave the Honolulu taxpayers with the burden of paying as much as $900 million more to operate and maintain the system.”

“We believe that the City must give our protest serious consideration and we fully expect the City to realize that the Sumitomo offer provides the best value to the City and the taxpayers,” said Antoniello.

Senator Inouye Awards Largest Transit Grant to Hawaii County

Media Release:

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye presented a check for $7.2 million to the County of Hawai’i for seven new 45-passenger buses and major improvements to the county’s Mass Transit Agency facilities on Saturday, October 16, 2010.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grants represent the largest amount ever provided to a Neighbor Island for public transportation improvement projects.

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi and Mass Transit Agency Director Tom Brown accepted the check from Senator Inouye in a brief ceremony outside the County building at 25 Aupuni Street , Hilo .

 

Fourth District County Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi receives a grant check for $7.2 million on behalf of the County of Hawai‘i from U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye to fund mass transit improvements.

 

Also attending were Hawai’i Island Council members Guy Enriques (6th District), Emily Naeole -Beason (5th District) and Dennis “Fresh” Onishi (4th District).

 

Sixth District Councilman Guy Enriques accepting a grant check for $7.2 million on behalf of the County of Hawai ‘i from U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye to fund mass transit improvements.

 

Council members Enriques and Naeole-Beason praised Senator Inouye for his efforts to improve transportation for the residents of their rural districts. ” In Ka‘u we come the longest way to drive to Kona and Hilo . We are going to need these buses desperately. I thank-you, this is a dream come true for Ka‘u.” said Councilman Enriques. “This shows that our County’s efforts to work in partnership and collaboration with our Congressional delegation and federal agencies provide invaluable services and benefits to our community.”

 

Fifth District Councilwoman Emily Naeole -Beason accepting a grant check for $7.2 million on behalf of the County of Hawai‘i from U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye to fund mass transit improvements.

 

Senator Inouye said the safe and timely transportation of our residents and visitors is critical to maintaining a healthy economy. “These funds will help people on the Big Island get to and from work while reducing traffic congestion and limiting the impact fossil fuels have on the environment.”

A $5 million State of Good Repair Grant from FTA, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, includes $4 million for new administration offices and base yard for the County’s Mass Transit Agency in Hilo .

The new County mass transit offices will provide easy access to a central location where the public can visit or call to obtain transit services and information. The base yard will enable the county to better house and maintain the transit agency’s growing fleet of buses.

The State of Good Repair Grant also includes $1 million for the purchase of three new 45-passenger buses with wheelchair access, bicycle racks and passenger security features that will continue to improve the County’s free, island-wide bus services for island residents.

An additional $2.2 million federal earmark from the FTA’s transit capital investment program will be used to purchase four additional new 45-passenger buses for the County’s transportation fleet. The grant will also used to purchase bus stop and bus shelter materials.

“This $7.2 million grant is a huge appropriation for our County and recognizes our efforts at building and enhancing the largest transportation system in the State of Hawai’i ,” said Mayor Kenoi. “We are very grateful for the help provided by our senior Senator Inouye and his staff in obtaining this valuable assistance for our residents.”

The county’s free, island-wide bus system is rapidly growing. In Fiscal Year 2009-2010, 1.1 million passengers boarded Hawai’i Island’s Hele-On buses, an 18 percent increase from the previous year.

“The new buses and the administrative and base yard improvements will have a tremendous positive impact on our mass transit system, allowing more people to use the system and to help us address increasing demand for our services,” said Tom Brown, Mass Transit Agency director.

“The growing demands of our residents traveling between East and West Hawai’i, connecting the Ka`u and Ocean View districts with Hilo and Kona, North Kohala and Kona, and between upper and lower Puna to Hilo, will be addressed with the new buses,” Brown said.

“With the generous support from Senator Inouye,” said Mayor Kenoi, “we are continuing to follow through on our commitment to expand our transit system.”

Senator Inouye to Present Hawaii County $7.2 Million in Bus Grants

From the Mayor’s Office:

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye will be in Hilo on Saturday to present a check to the County of Hawaii representing $7.2 million in federal grants for six new 45-passenger buses and major improvements to the county’s Mass Transit Agency facilities.

Hawai‘i County Mass Transit Agency Director Tom Brown, left, and Mayor Billy Kenoi, accept a Federal Transit Agency check representing $7.2 million from U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye to fund mass transit improvements in the County of Hawai‘i.

“The safe and timely transportation of our residents and visitors is critical to maintaining a healthy economy,” said Senator Inouye. “These funds will help people on the Big Island get to and from work while reducing traffic congestion and limiting the impact fossil fuels have on the environment.”

A $5 million State of Good Repair Grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, includes $4 million for new administration offices and base yard for the County’s Mass Transit Agency in Hilo.

The new County mass transit offices will provide easy access to a central location where the public can visit or call to obtain transit services and information. The base yard will enable the county to better house and maintain the transit agency’s growing fleet of buses.

The State of Good Repair Grant also includes $1 million for the purchase of three new 45-passenger buses with wheelchair access, bicycle racks and passenger security features that will continue to improve the County’s free, island-wide bus services for island residents.

An additional $2.2 million federal earmark from the FTA’s transit capital investment program will be used to purchase four additional new 45-passenger buses for the County’s transportation fleet. The grant will also used to purchase bus stop and bus shelter materials.

“This $7.2 million grant is a huge appropriation for our County and recognizes our efforts at building and enhancing the largest transportation system in the State of Hawaii,” said Mayor Kenoi. “We are very grateful for the help provided by our senior Senator Inouye and his staff in obtaining this valuable assistance for our residents.”

The county’s free, island-wide bus system is rapidly growing. In Fiscal Year 2009-2010, 1.1 million passengers boarded Hawaiian Island’s Hele-On buses, an 18 percent increase from the previous year.

“The new buses and the administrative and base yard improvements will have a tremendous positive impact on our mass transit system, allowing more people to use the system and to help us address increasing demand for our services,” said Tom Brown, Mass Transit Agency director.

“The growing demands of our residents traveling between East and West Hawaii, connecting the Ka`u and Ocean View districts with Hilo and Kona, North Kohala and Kona, and between upper and lower Puna to Hilo, will be addressed with the new buses,” Brown said. “Helping to get our people to work, school, medical appointments, and recreation activities improves their quality of life.”

“With the generous support from Senator Inouye,” said Mayor Kenoi, “we are continuing to follow through on our commitment to expand our transit system.”

The grant will be presented in a brief ceremony at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, in the front of the Hawaii County Building at 25 Aupuni St., Hilo.