Isle Congress members to rush transit funding, mayor says
Mayor Mufi Hannemann, fresh from hustling support for Honolulu's mass transit system in the nation's capital, says Hawaii's congressional delegation has agreed to fast-track advance funding for environmental impact and engineering studies.
Hannemann spent last week meeting with congressional leaders from both parties as well as Federal Transit Administration leaders. He said the purpose was to assure that Honolulu had both a funding mechanism in place and broad-based community support.
Hannemann said there were leaders in Congress who are still aware of the situation that occurred 15 years ago, when the city rejected a promised $620 million in federal dollars to start a Honolulu mass transit system.
"I assured them that this time is very different," he said.
The mayor said the intent of last week's meetings was "all about laying the groundwork."
"They all indicated that that we got a good project," Hannemann told reporters yesterday.
The mayor said he is confident that Hawaii's congressional delegation will be able to get funds approved this year for the environmental and preliminary engineering studies.
In late December the City Council, by a 7-2 vote, gave its final approval to a $3.6 billion fixed guideway system.
The Hannemann administration hopes to designate the 30-mile route's first phase, or the minimum operable segment, by February.
The earliest the first phase of about six to 10 miles could be operable would be 2012, according to Hannemann's administration.