Friday, May 20, 2011

FTA’s Rogoff Repeats Honolulu Rail Support, Says Financial Risk ‘Under Control’ on 20-Mile Project

“Steady as she goes” describes the testimony of Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs yesterday. Rogoff specifically cited cost containment on Honolulu’s $5.3 billion rail project and expressed the FTA’s confidence that its financial risk is "under control."

Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), who sits on the committee, engaged Rogoff in a dialogue on Honolulu rail and neighbor island transit issues. Rogoff said Honolulu’s traffic is “some of the most punishing” in the country and that the FTA is “working to make sure the project comes in on time and on budget.”

Here’s Rogoff’s statement as provided to Honolulu media by Akaka’s office:
As you pointed out in your opening statement Senator, I think - and this information is a surprise to a great many Americans - Honolulu and O'ahu in particular has some of the most punishing congestion in the United States. And the Honolulu Rail Project is something that we support quite strongly. This project has taken a long time to get off the ground, as you know. It has sort of been derailed twice before, and the only thing that's happened is the congestion on H-1 has gotten even worse. It was also pointed out that there is a good bus network on O'ahu, but the reality is, when you've got a congested road network, there's only so much you can accomplish with buses. So we, in our budget for 2012, have proposed 250 million dollars specifically for the Honolulu Rail Project, and we're hopeful of admitting that project into final design. We're currently reviewing their financial plan. We did recently conclude a risk assessment where we found that the risk was actually under control and the local authorities' proposal to lower the cost estimate was reasonable, based on how much of the projects they've gotten under contract. So this is the kind of project that will really be about traditional congestion relief. It will be about getting working people from the west side of the island to over to the east side and home in time to see their kids when they're awake. And it mirrors at lot of what can be accomplished elsewhere in the country.

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