Wednesday, February 16, 2011

City To Submit New Rail Plan. That’s News?

It’s been about 18 hours since the only daily newspaper in Honolulu headlined a story online saying the City will submit a new financial plan to the Federal Transit Administration for Honolulu rail.

Why our delay in posting about it? Simply because it’s not exactly earthshaking news that a new financial plan will be part of the process of obtaining federal funding for the project.

Anti-railers for about 18 months have glommed onto the FTA's response to a 2009 Honolulu rail financial plan because it expressed some concern about the City’s ability to provide the local share of rail's financing.

One of them recently posted: “Honolulu must provide a stronger financial plan in order to keep going in the New Starts process.” And that’s exactly what the City is going to do.

Here’s what the FTA has to say about the 2009 plan:

“Sometimes you need to be mindful of this,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff yesterday. “These financial projects are just that, projections. They change as interest rates change…as local revenue estimates change. The most updated plan is always the most important one.”

In other words, the anti-railers’ concerns about the 2009 plan are irrelevant. The old financial plan “matters less than the new financial plan” in Rogoff’s words, as reported in the Star-Advertiser.

One step follows another. The New Starts funding process is well known and certainly understood by City planners.

Anti-railers will have to glom onto something else to keep their hopes alive.

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