City transit system on long track for funding
Congress is set to approve funds for starting Honolulu's transit project.
HAWAII'S congressional delegation is priming the pump to begin the flow of federal dollars
for building what will be the largest public works project in the city's history -- a transit system projected to cost at least $4 billion.
Up against that figure, the $20 million approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and $10 million expected to be cleared by the House seem woefully short, but taxpayers should keep in mind that whatever amount Congress finally agrees on this time around likely will be just a first allotment of funding.
Still, Hawaii's senators and representatives will have to press hard continually through the next decade or more to get the estimated $1.2 billion officials believe the federal government will chip in.
Taxpayers, meanwhile, need no reminder that whether the tap is in Washington, D.C., or Honolulu Hale, the revenue stream for the system will come from their pockets.
The transit system will be an expensive undertaking not only to build but to maintain. However, the city has few choices. As the island's population continues to grow, so will its traffic problems and though the transit system might not reduce highway congestion, it will provide an option.
The money Congress approves will be used along with city funds to begin preliminary planning, design and engineering work.
Groundbreaking is scheduled for 2009, with the first 10 miles expected to be completed in 2012. In 10 years, the city hopes to have 20 miles in place; in 20 years, 30 miles. The end of the rail line is a long way and a lot of money ahead.
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