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.

 

More on Honolulu Rail Transit by Congressional Candidate Bob Marx

Last week Congressional Candidate Bob Marx released the following comments regarding Honolulu’s Rail Transit Project.

Congressional Candidate Bob Marx

I just received the following update:

I’ve been asked before how a rail advocate like me can be against the proposed HART project. Let me make this clear: I am an ardent supporter of mass transit systems. Today marks the 45th anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s speech denouncing the war in Vietnam and standing up for the poor.  In this spirit, thousands of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) supporters and working people across the country stood up to have their voices heard. I commend the efforts of the folks out there on the streets in their own communities demanding that federal cuts to public transportation be stopped.

The bitter reality is that the proposed GOP budget and cuts nationwide to mass transit systems make it highly unlikely that Hawai‘i will receive the $1.5 billion in federal subsidies that Honolulu is relying on to fund the steel-on-steel elevated rail program. I cannot support a project that does not produce enough local jobs for the people of Hawai‘i nor benefit the people of my district. We are not supporting our local economy (or even the American economy) by outsourcing $1.4 billion in construction and maintenance of the trains to an Italian-owned business venture with questionable success rates. And writing the bill off on future generations or people in rural Oahu who won’t have direct access to the system is not right either.

To me, public transportation–like health care–should be a universal right for all our citizens. Dr. King knew this to be true. As this historic day draws to a close, we must be reminded that the main goal of public transportations should not be to alleviate traffic for weekday shoppers and sports fans, but to help those struggling to find work, or those paying $25 a day on gasoline and maintenance for their 40 mile commutes.

Dr. King called “urban transportation a true genuine civil right” and with ever-rising gas prices, we must make every effort to help those in the most need. The hard working people on the Waianae Coast–many struggling now just to get by–should be the first with access to a modern rail system. As the cost of living has steadily risen in the last decade, folks on the Makaha Valley have lost over 22% of their income. A modern, grounded maglev train from the Makaha through Nanakuli to Ewa beach can help those that need it the most, and at a fraction of the cost.

If the main goal of the Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART) is merely to alleviate traffic congestion in downtown Honolulu, I believe there are easier ways. It’s less than a quarter-mile from Hickam Air Force Base to Iroquois Point; a bridge (or tunnel if that better suits the Navy) would greatly alleviate traffic in downtown and provide an alternate route to the leeward side of Oahu and beyond. It would help everyone from Ewa Beach to Waianae to the commuters going west to east in the evenings.

Bob Marx practices law in Hilo, Hawai‘i and is a Candidate for Congress in the Second District.

Honolulu Candidate for Mayor Kirk Caldwell Statement on Cayetano Announcement

Honolulu Mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell had this to say about former Governor Ben Cayetano’s announcement that he would also be running for the Honolulu Mayor’s seat:

Being Mayor means being hand on! And let’s get something straight right up front, rail transit is an important issue in this election. However, this election is about so much more. It’s about the buses that take people to and from their jobs everyday. the HandiVan service, bus passes, it’s about protecting people and their property, filling pot holes and repaving their roads.

If you want a world traveler or a single issue candidate, I’m not your guy. I’ll be a Mayor who understands the details, rolls up his sleeves, digs in, gets serious, brings people together, listens to ideas . . . and solves problems. That’s how I did things when I was Mayor, that’s how we’ll get the job done … everyday, hands on.

Kirk Caldwell

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.