Reporter Treena Shapiro starts off by noting: “When construction begins on Honolulu’s rail line is now up to the governor and federal government.”
It’s like raising a child. You spend years preparing, planning, informing and selecting, and in the end, the City has to stand back and see what happens with this major project. Shapiro continues:
“The City this month submitted its final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed $5.3 billion rail project to the Federal Transit Administration. For construction to begin, the FTA and Gov. Linda Lingle need to sign off on the plans.”
The requirement to obtain those two final sign-offs has been known for years, so that’s not “news” news. But Shapiro’s observation serves to sharpen the focus of everyone concerned with rail. First the FTA, then the Governor must give rail a thumbs up.
The former doesn’t seem in doubt. FTA officials in February gave the project a ringing endorsement and as good as pledged $1.55 billion in federal funds to Honolulu rail. So the real question is whether the Governor will formally accept the FEIS and allow rail to be built.
We’ve noted here that the Governor has shown a partiality to at-grade trains, even though at-grade transit requires more ground-level disruption and trenching, more neighborhood impacts, more incursion into existing traffic lanes, is accident-prone and therefore less reliable, is slower, can carry fewer passengers, and so on.
Shapiro’s piece is informative reading and we encourage Yes2Rail’s visitors to do so, but we’ll also add some of Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s thoughts as expressed in a February 2 press conference. He reflected on the FTA’s supportive comments and the necessity for Governor Lingle to sign off on rail for it to become a reality after all these decades of planning and anticipation. Mayor Hannemann: