Wednesday, February 10, 2010

76 Percent of State House Urge Governor Lingle’s Quick Acceptance of Honolulu Rail Project’s FEIS

Representatives Mark Takai (Newtown, Waiau, Pearl City, Waimalu), Tom Brower (Waikiki, Ala Moana), Sharon Har (Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa) and Joey Manahan (Sand Island, Mokauea, Kalihi Kai, Kapalama)
Thirty-nine of the 51 members of the Hawaii State House of Representatives have signed a letter urging Governor Linda Lingle to accept the Honolulu Rail project’s Final EIS when it reaches her desk.

A delegation of House members made the announcement at Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s rail forum this afternoon in the State Capitol’s auditorium. It’s the same venue used by the Governor three weeks ago when she invited local architects to make a case for at-grade rail in Honolulu rather than the City’s elevated system.

Even more remarkable perhaps than the overwhelming support of the House for quick acceptance of the FEIS was the 100-percent participation of neighbor island representatives. Hannemann (at right) said the neighbor islanders’ endorsement shows they understand the entire state will benefit from the Honolulu rail project.
Rep. Mark Takai lead the effort to obtain the members’ signatures and told the standing-room-only audience, “We can’t give up the opportunity to receive $1.55 billion in federal funds.” Federal Department of Transportation officials said last week Honolulu is virtually assured of receiving that amount in federal funds for the project.

Rep. Sharon Har, whose constituents live in communities near the western end of the rail system’s route, said the Second City concept on the ewa plain was conceived decades ago, but severe traffic congestion has burdened residents of the area.

“The dream of a Second City has become a nightmare because of government’s failure to build adequate infrastructure,” she said, adding that rail transit will be a crucial part of the required infrastructure.

Hannemann said Honolulu rail is the only shovel-ready project in the state that could add 4,000 jobs to the economy in 2010. That number would grow steadily to 17,000 within five years, he said, and he emphasized the significance of last week’s endorsement of the project by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff.

The Mayor added, “Some who have been in the transportation business a long time say they’ve never heard such a strong statement and commitment” from federal officials for a transit project even before the FEIS has been formally completed.

House Letter’s Highlights

“We, the undersigned members of the Hawaii House of Representatives, strongly request that you review and accept the final Environmental Impact Statement for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project in a timely manner once the document is released by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
“Along with dealing with our transportation woes, the Honolulu rail transit project is the biggest economic stimulus project on the horizon that will provide thousands of jobs and create tax revenue for our state and county governments to fund essential services currently being cut.
“The Obama Administration, in its budget submission to Congress, earlier this month gave the Honolulu rail project a vote of confidence by requesting $55 million in federal funds for rail in FY 2011. Peter Rogoff, head of the (FTA), told the local media his agency will sign an agreement by next year to provide another $1.55 billion in construction funds….
“The FTA informed the city that if any decision is made to change the rail system from elevated to at-grade, the FTA would have to start the environmental review process again. Our rail project has gone through five years of extensive planning and environmental review. As the FTA stated, making changes to the project now would put it back to square one and possibly halt the project indefinitely.
“The bottom line is that the FTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation see nothing at this point to stop Honolulu’s rail transit project from continuing to go forward and are committed to continue working with the city to help make rail transit a reality for Honolulu.
“Ultimately, Oahu residents in November 2008 voted in support of the rail project. The people have spoken. There is no major construction project other than rail that is shove-ready. The longer you delay Oahu’s and our state’s economic recovery, the longer you will leave our workers unemployed and struggling during this economic recession. WE, the undersigned, therefore request that you act expeditiously in accepting the final Environmental Impact Statement once it is released by the Federal Transit Administration.”
Part of standing-room-only crowd in the Auditorium.

1 comment:

HNLRailTransit said...

Jobs, Economy & Our Island's Future - an update on the Honolulu Rail Transit Project - presented by Mayor Mufi Hannemann & the City and County of Honolulu on 2/10/2010 at the Hawaii State Capitol. This presentation includes lawmakers requesting Governor Lingle to sign off on rail's FEIS once its presented to her for review.

An eight part YouTube video series.

Part 1 -
Part 2 -
Part 3 -
Part 4 -
Part 5 -
Part 6 -
Part 7 -
Part 8 -