comscore FTA sets April 30 deadline for new rail financial plan | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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FTA sets April 30 deadline for new rail financial plan

A Federal Transit Administration has agreed to give the city until April 30 to submit a financial recovery plan for its increasingly expensive rail project, allowing Mayor Kirk Caldwell, the Honolulu City Council and the Honolulu Authority for Rail Transportation an additional five months to convince state lawmakers to extend the 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge on Oahu that they say is necessary to complete the project.

In a letter to Caldwell Tuesday, FTA Region IX Deputy Administrator Edward Carranza Jr. said that while the city should continue with its “Plan A” to build the entire East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center line, it should also simultaneously work on a “Plan B” based on a “build to budget” scenario using an anticipated $6.8 billion in revenues as its price ceiling.

The most recent cost estimates released by HART this week now anticipate the project could cost as much as $9.5 billion for all 20 miles and 21 stations.

“The city has developed a more clear-eyed, realistic plan to get the rail project back on track,” U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said in a statement. “More must be done in the coming months to ensure we can complete the project, but this extension is welcome news ‎for Honolulu and is further indication of the FTA’s commitment to the rail project.”

A Full Funding Grant Agreement gave the city $1.55 billion in federal transit dollars for the rail project. During the summer, amid concerns of rising costs, the FTA asked the city to submit a financial recovery plan by Dec. 31. The city had asked for the deadline to be extended until next summer, giving it extra time to secure from state lawmakers the OK for an extension of the tax surcharge.

Carranza, in his letter, said the FTA is obligated to protect “the public’s very substantial investment” in the Honolulu project.

“Although the FTA recognizes that Plan A is the City and County’s preferred option, the City and County must continue to advance Plan B sufficiently in the event that they are unable to obtain additional financial resources,” Carranza said. “This includes undertaking a detailed cost and schedule analysis of the proposed Plan B alignment that would end at the Downtown Station; completing ridership studies on the feasibility of de-scoping options; and implementing cost containment and cost reduction measures as appropriate.”

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  • Do the math. How much will the average homeowner on Oahu have to pay in property taxes to fund this disaster??

    We were already lost with no plan at $7-billion, and even with the GET extended permanently, the fed money AND a likely raise in property taxes to the tune of $4,000 per household.

    A few months later, we’re now $2.5-billion further in the hole. Do the math per household.

    Then, what do you think the number will be in February? April? June? Next winter???

    Then consider that the Feds will be yanking all future funding and possibly demanding $1.2-billion be paid back.

    And that’s just in early 2017!

    And then, even if we ever finish the rail (maybe sometime around 2030, for the bargain price of $25-billion), WE DON’T EVEN HAVE A PLAN TO MAINTAIN IT. What do you think THAT will cost?

    On and on and on it goes, the Caldwell disaster unfolds and unfolds. And if you are one of the I-DI-OTS on Oahu who voted for that con-artist, pat yourself on the back and enjoy watching your great-grandkids get soaked to pay for this disaster.

    Me? I’ll be laughing all the way to the airport and laughing even harder, every time I read http://www.startadvertiser.com over the coming years, from my cabin in the Rockies or my condo out East. I didn’t vote for this and I ain’t paying for it.

    Congratulations, Honolulu.

    • I’m with you- just trying to find the best real estate deal on the mainland, time to cash out of Hawaii, or maybe wait 3 years as the SA says prices to rise 10%, if they don’t tank first. Don’t forget about the rusting post tension cables in this 20 mile long bridge called “Rail”. Like I said before, Oahu is screwed…

      • Funny how you and the rest of the paid rail cheerleaders are either dead silent or refuse to offer anything of substance when YET ANOTHER story revealing the glaring lies we were sold on rail comes out, and even in the bought-and-paid-for “newspaper” rail advertisement called the “Star Advertiser.”

        And you probably haven’t traveled far from Nanakuli in your life if you think that a person must be a “scrooge” to afford such things. I can buy a cabin on 25 acres anywhere along the Colorado foothills and a 2BR condo in most any major East Coast city for less than a 3BR/2BA 40-year-old home in Aiea.

      • Perhaps you don’t read comments carefully. It’s difficult for low-income people to make ends meet when taxes and fees keep going up. While hundreds of dollars/year may be insignificant to you, I can assure you it’s a lot of money to people who are struggling to put food on the table.

  • “Carranza, in his letter, said the FTA is obligated to protect “the public’s very substantial investment” in the Honolulu project.”

    Laughable. NO ONE KNOWS the final cost of this debacle and the $1.55 billion “carrot” that the FEDS dangle has turned into one of those lil one inch carrot stubs.

    The sheeple have been conditioned to pay the 1/2% tax increase (which really translates to a 12.5% increase based on the prior 4%. Given the approximate $300M/year that the tax generates I wonder if that’s enough given the unknown costs to build and operate. The dedicated power plant is no where in these discussions to “protect the public’s substantial investment”.

  • Sad really, in the past 15 years Hawaii has destroyed a lot of the things that made it Hawaii. No we have a huge homeless population with rising real estate and rent prices (along with flat wage increases), the roads and bridges are falling apart (how many pot holes did you dodge today), real estate taxes keep going up with no return, Aloha is going fast (look at all the hit and runs in the last week) and now we got a $20 Billion Rail to pay for that will only serve and few and do nothing to ease traffic. Oh forgot we are paving over our farm land…

  • For those of you who think we’re in bad shape NOW, just you wait till that rail columns hit Kalihi! Then Downtown!! OH, YEAH!!

    Wait till the piles start hitting underground gas lines!

    Wait till the piles start hitting underground electrical lines!

    Wait till we begin hitting iwi after iwi after iwi, and the sovereignty clowns are marching up and down Dillingham (ala TMT), protesting and throwing rocks!

    Wait till the piles start disappearing down lava tubes!

    Wait till the piles begin smashing open sewer lines and flooding major roadway!

    OH YES, folks. The real fun hasn’t even started yet. Multiply that $9.5-Billion by two and that should barely get us through construction to Ala Moana Shopping Center.

    After you factor in maintenance costs (and we have no idea what that will be, because the Caldwell Admin didn’t even bother doing a study yet)…

    After you factor in lawsuits…

    After you factor in the multiple EIS requirements that will come from those lawsuits…

    After you factor in the cost of constructing the power source/grid (because Caldwell hasn’t even planned out how he’s going to POWER the f’ing train yet)…

    After you factor in the cost of contract delays…

    And then after you factor in the millions more that the city will pay for HART shuffles and public relations costs, as you know Caldwell and HART enjoy making expensive commercials to assure the populace that the project is going absolutely fine…

    That’s how you end up with a $25-Billion rail project that’s constantly broken, nobody rides, solves zero traffic problems and has now bankrupted the City and County of Honolulu for the next generation. Factor in the glaring inevitability of so many locals simply moving away to avoid the insane property tax increases that will forever go up, and up and up, and up…

    BET YOU WEREN’T THINKING ABOUT THAT WHEN YOU FILLED IN THE BOX NEXT TO “CALDWELL, KIRK.”

    Unless you voted for Djou, you deserve exactly what’s coming next.

    Enjoy.

  • For those of you who think we’re in bad shape NOW, just you wait till that rail columns hit Kalihi! Then Downtown!! OH, YEAH!!

    Wait till the piles start hitting underground gas lines!

    Wait till the piles start hitting underground electrical lines!

    Wait till we begin hitting iwi after iwi after iwi, and the sovereignty clowns are marching up and down Dillingham (ala TMT), protesting and throwing rocks!

    Wait till the piles start disappearing down lava tubes!

    Wait till the piles begin smashing open sewer lines and flooding major roadway!

    OH YES, folks. The real fun hasn’t even started yet. Multiply that $9.5-Billion by two and that should barely get us through construction to Ala Moana Shopping Center.

    After you factor in maintenance costs (and we have no idea what that will be, because the Caldwell Admin didn’t even bother doing a study yet)…

    After you factor in lawsuits…

    After you factor in the multiple EIS requirements that will come from those lawsuits…

    After you factor in the cost of constructing the power source/grid (because Caldwell hasn’t even planned out how he’s going to POWER the train yet)…

    After you factor in the cost of contract delays…

    And then after you factor in the millions more that the city will pay for HART shuffles and public relations costs, as you know Caldwell and HART enjoy making expensive commercials to assure the populace that the project is going absolutely fine…

    That’s how you end up with a $25-Billion rail project that’s constantly broken, nobody rides, solves zero traffic problems and has now bankrupted the City and County of Honolulu for the next generation. Factor in the glaring inevitability of so many locals simply moving away to avoid the insane property tax increases that will forever go up, and up and up, and up…

    BET YOU WEREN’T THINKING ABOUT THAT WHEN YOU FILLED IN THE BOX NEXT TO “CALDWELL, KIRK.”

    Unless you voted for Djou, you deserve exactly what’s coming next.

    Enjoy.

  • Everyone should write/email their respective legislator saying to vote NO to any further extensions. Ask for a response if legislator disagrees with you.

    • Everyone should write to the Trump and the new FTA head person chosen by Trump who will be in charge when the April 30 deadline comes around. At that point the feds will legally have every right to not only pull the plug of any more federal funding but demand that federal money already spent on the useless train to nowhere be returned given the project has been completely non-compliant with federal requirements. Like the Hawaii Health Connector that got its federal fund pulled, will be the beginning of the end of the Oahu rail project.

  • It’s hard to believe any of the people involved with the rail project got re-elected, when in fact they were ALL re-elected. Honolulu truly deserves what our corrupt Politicians and their special interests are doing to Oahu. Bend over Honolulu, you’re gonna get *ucked royal.

    • The irony is that President Trump and his new FTA boss, might actually be the savior of Oahu residents and taxpayers by pulling the plug on federal funding of the Oahu train to nowhere project. Without federal funds and worse if they demand all federal money be returned, there is no way Kirk, City Council and State legislatures try to cover the loss BILLIONS by forcing Hawaii taxpayers to come up with the lost funding in ADDITION to paying for the cost increases that will easily reach $10-20 BILLION dollars that Oahu taxpayers have almost completely cover on their own. The current budget estimate of $8 BILLION does not even cover the costs Oahu taxpayers have to pay to build and maintain new fossil fuel generator on Oahu and all of the electrical infrastructure and manpower costs associated with this new fossil fuel generator. Also not included in current estimated costs is the cost of electricity to power all of these overweight trains back and forth over the train track that will constantly run possibly 19 hours or more per day. UH and DOE have yearly electric bills in the $80-100 million per year range. The Oahu trains will probably use as much electricity as UH and DOE combined so figure an electricity bill of over $150 million per year or more that Oahu taxpayers will be forced to pay. whether people use the train or not the trains have to run and use up massive amounts of electricity. I think the Oahu train project itself will by itself prevent Oahu from ever becoming energy independent from fossil fuel, unless Oahu installs nuclear reactors to generate electricity and that will not happen anytime soon. All the PV, Wind and solar power that can be generated on Oahu will not come even close to cover the electrical power needs of the Oahu train system.

  • The feds should get tough on Caldwell. He was too cozy with MacMillan the gal the feds HAD overseeing rail. She inappropriately used her fed position to lobby state voters. Then there was the Grabauskas debacle.

    • Build as far as 6.8 billion will take us. Don

      Build as far as 6.8 billion will take us. Enough of putting the burden on the tax payers. Have the private sector come up with the difference. Cheaper to not accept the fed portion since we are taking 9 billion. The council should present to Trump and see what he has to say. LOL

  • Wait, I see a bunch of politicians (“them”) are given a major role but John Q. Public (“us”) are excluded again. We never get a say, but get shafted with more taxes and more taxes. Always regressive taxes!

  • The FTA says “work on a “Plan B” based on a “build to budget” scenario using an anticipated $6.8 billion in revenues as its price ceiling”. This Plan B is the best and actually ONLY option we should pursue. Private interests are not going to put money into a FAILED project and we don’t want any more TAX money going into this FAILED project.

  • I sure hope the feds see just how stupid our politicians are at least the ones that support the rail.. I hope they pull the plug and drain the swamp of the wasted money spent on the rail.. I will never to anything and most people will never use it. Some people in this state will be paying for it and not come close to using it because of where they live.. Yet they will be paying for it…Why but why.. we will never get out from under this fiasco!.. KILL IT.. It will be murder on our future generations. Take the lost and redirect the funds to worthy causes that will better our transportation woes. The rail is making it worst.. the Politicians should for a month drive from Waianae / Ewa Beach / Mililani and get a birds eye view of how bad it is.. The rail will not help. It is killing businesses everywhere… Wait until the construction crew find bones! OMG another 20 billion in cost and delays.. Cut our loses and be done with it.. More and more people will be leaving this state because of taxes and transportation and housing cost.. Paradise yes.. Have Kirk put it on his VISA Card.. What happened to the people who initiated this project.. They should be held responsible as well.. Listening Mufi? I do hope the Feds CUT OFF ALL funds and force our state to stop this chu chu train to disaster.

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