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Rail transit project will cost $1.7 billion more, analysis says

By Star-Advertiser staff and Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:25 p.m. HST, Dec 2, 2010

The state's final analysis of the city's rail transit project says the project is likely to require more than $1.7 billion in additional capital and operating subsidies from the city over 20 years than is assumed by the city's financial plan.

Gov. Linda Lingle said late today that she has sent the state's $350,000 financial analysis of the rail project to Mayor Peter Carlisle. 

The 135-page report, by the Infrastructure Management Group Inc., contends that general excise tax receipts that are dedicated to the rail system are likely to be almost a third lower than forecast by the project's current financial plan.

The study also claims ridership is likely to be lower than estimated.

A copy of the report was also sent to City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia and Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie, as well as the Federal Transit Administration and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, according to Lingle. 

"I am confident these officials will appreciate the need to fairly assess the economic impact of this proposed rail project on Hawaii taxpayers today and for generations to come," Lingle said. 

The state Office of Environmental Quality Control is still reviewing the project's environmental impact statement.

Abercrombie has said he would give the project a green light regardless of what the financial review said, as long as the environmental review meets legal requirements. 

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