Friday, November 27, 2015         

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City scrutinizing state's financial report on rail

By B.J. Reyes


The city is reviewing the state's financial analysis of the rail transit project but still hopes to proceed as quickly as possible, Mayor Peter Carlisle said yesterday.

Carlisle said he remains "very positive and very optimistic" about breaking ground by March.

The financial report, ordered by former Gov. Linda Lingle's administration, predicted $1.7 billion in added costs for the city's proposed $5.5 billion rail transit system, adding that ridership would likely be lower than city projections.

The city says the state report's findings are contrary to independent financial reviews conducted by the Federal Transit Administration, which say the project's financial plan is sound.

Carlisle called the report biased and an "appalling waste" of taxpayer money last week but said yesterday the city is analyzing it.

"We want to do that carefully," he said. "We want to see if we need to take specific actions to deal with some of the allegations. Are there things that we can do which will make it so that we'll have an even firmer position than we already have and maybe we need to change a position? We need to look at it from both sides.

"But right now I'm satisfied that we are doing exactly what we should be doing according to the federal government and the projections that we have from our own research and investigation."

Carlisle said he plans to meet soon with Gov. Neil Abercrombie, whose signature is needed on the project's final environmental impact statement. The EIS is being vetted by the state Office of Environmental Quality before going to the governor.

"I want to make sure that he is as interested as we are in the project -- that we are on the same page in terms of when we can move forward with it," Carlisle said.

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