The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has received a second grand jury subpoena seeking more information about the $9.2 billion Honolulu rail project, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned.
A spokesman for the project declined to answer questions about the subpoena this morning but said HART CEO Andrew Robbins would meet with reporters this afternoon to discuss the latest development in the federal investigation of rail.
The Star-Advertiser reported in December that federal investigators were taking an interest in the project, and on Feb. 14 HART acknowledged it had received a sweeping subpoena seeking tens of thousands of documents related to rail.
That first subpoena sought records that date back to the early days of the project, including consultant contracts, a list of contractors and subcontractors, contractor change orders and supporting documents.
The first subpoena also sought archaeological studies and correspondence with the Federal Transit Administration in connection with the agreement to provide federal funding for the project, according to HART.
HART has pledged to cooperate fully with that subpoena, and issued a statement that it “wants to assure our many stakeholders that our staff and contractors will continue to work toward completing the project and having it ready to open for limited passenger service next year.”
According to HART, the first federal demand for records and files largely duplicated the list of documents HART had already provided to the Hawaii State Auditor.
The federal government has committed to provide $1.55 billion to help fund the Honolulu rail project but has withheld nearly $744 million of that while the FTA considers a “recovery plan” that HART has submitted to federal officials.
The rail authority had hoped to receive clearance this month to resume drawing down federal funding, but some worry the federal investigation involving the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI might delay that funding.
The 20-mile rail line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center is the largest public works project in state history.
The city signed an agreement with the FTA in 2012 that called for rail’s elevated guideway and 21 stations to be built for $5.26 billion and open by 2020, but the project is delayed and is over budget. Construction and financing of rail are now expected to total about $9.2 billion, and the rail authority expects to finish the system in late 2025.
It is unclear exactly what aspect of the rail project has triggered the federal inquiry, which involves the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI.
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