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Lingle being urged to sign off quickly on rail

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U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye and acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell today urged Gov. Linda Lingle to quickly approve a final environmental impact statement for the city’s rail transit project to prevent putting $1.55 billion in federal dollars at risk.

Caldwell today met with Inouye and Alex Keenan, clerk for the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, to provide an update on the city’s $5.5 billion rail transit project.

The city is counting on $1.55 billion in federal transit funds, but Inouye noted that the money “is not really in the bank unless we use it as soon as possible.”

He noted that Hawaii is competing with all other states seeking federal transit dollars.
“At this moment, we’re ahead,” he said. “But if we don’t take advantage of the time element, then don’t look at me.”

The final EIS has been sent to the governor’s office. Gov. Linda Lingle has said she plans an independent review of the project’s finances before giving her approval.

Caldwell and Inouye said the state’s review is not a component of the environmental process, adding that the Federal Transit Administration and its financial consultants have already reviewed the plan and will do so again next year.

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