Statement on FTA response to Oahu rail funding deadlines

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today responded in writing to both Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Council Chair Ernest Y. Martin, to clarify the funding requirements and deadlines for the rail project (see attached letter).

The letter formalizes most of the points made in a telephone conference call on Wednesday morning, October 24, in particular that the $44 million in city funds must be fully available to use for rail, with no further action required. This means the city would not have time to issue bonds and have those funds available prior to the FTA’s deadline of November 20.

The letter concludes by saying that “the use of bonds is a local decision” and “Alternatively, the city could consider other funding mechanisms to meet the FTA’s specified November 20, 2018 timeframe.” Finally, the letter concludes by saying that “Absent a viable path forward, FTA may proceed with the remedies set forth in the Full Funding Grant Agreement for this project.”

“I want to thank Chair Ernie Martin for pulling Bill 42 from the City Council’s Budget Committee, and expeditiously holding special sessions at Honolulu Hale for the purpose of passing needed legislation on rail funding,” said Mayor Caldwell. “We will be working on alternatives to meet the FTA’s requirements by the stated November 20 deadline while also being completely transparent with the public and not placing the city in legal jeopardy. We want to work closely with both the City Council and HART to ensure the FTA does not have to proceed with remedies that would negatively impact the city, HART and the project.”

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