The Federal Transit Administration wants to see the city accelerate the pace of its contributions to help fund the Honolulu rail project before the federal agency releases $744 million in project funding it has withheld.
But in a news conference this afternoon, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director Andrew Robbins said he plans to meet with officials from the FTA this month to try to convince them that there is no need to step up the pace of the city’s contributions.
The FTA also wants to get a better estimate of the cost of completing the last 4.1 miles of rail line through the dense city center, and said in a March 29 letter that it will not resume funding the project until it has a clearer picture of how much that will cost.
Ray Tellis, regional administrator for the FTA’s Region IX, noted in the letter that HART expects to award a contract for a public-private partnership late next January to complete the rail line, and the cost of the so-called P3 contract will be spelled out then. HART has said that construction will cost about $1.4 billion.
The FTA will not release the extra $744 million in federal funding “until the cost of the procurement is identified, and HART can demonstrate its financial ability to fund the contract within its existing financial plan,” Tellis wrote.
HART has been developing a detailed cost estimate for that last segment of rail that should be finished this month, and Robbins said he hopes that will satisfy the FTA and allow for release of federal funding before next year.
HART had expected to receive the first $100 million increment of that federal funding near the middle of this year.