Stimulus funds boost rail transit engineering


POSTED: Friday, August 14, 2009

The city has been awarded more than $40 million in federal stimulus funds for transportation projects, including $4 million for preliminary engineering work on the initial segment of the $5.29 billion rail project.

“;These funds will increase alternatives to driving and hopefully lessen the traffic burden experienced by Oahu commuters,”; U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said yesterday in a news release. “;Additionally, these projects will create jobs and work for a construction industry struggling with the current recession.”;

About half the money, $19.3 million, will be used to buy 20 60-foot articulated replacement buses for high-passenger routes. Almost $8 million will be used to expand the parking lot at the Pearl City Bus Facility; $4.3 million for the Wahiawa Transit Center; $3.1 million for the Middle Street joint transit center; and about $2 million for bus stop improvements, according to Inouye's office.

A federal report released last month indicated that the rail project was fiscally sound and should proceed to the next step, preliminary engineering.

The report by Jacobs Engineering Group, a Dallas-based consulting firm, puts the cost of the 20-mile rail route from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center at $5.29 billion. That is about $117 million more than the most recent estimate of $5.17 billion derived in the past year by the city administration.

City Transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka said the administration appreciated Inouye's help securing funds for Honolulu's rail project—about $35 million, to date. “;As we move into the preliminary engineering ... we're going to be able to access this pile of money and use it to really bring this project to fruition.”;

The total grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is $40,649,148.