Views on rail funding questioned


POSTED: Thursday, January 28, 2010

Two City Council members say they want to know why Gov. Linda Lingle says federal officials are wary of the financial plan for Oahu's proposed rail system and Mayor Mufi Hannemann says it is on track.

Council Chairman Todd Apo and Councilman Ikaika Anderson said they feel they're caught in the middle as each side interprets what they've heard from the Federal Transit Administration differently.

“;We're trying to make sure we all have the same set of information,”; Apo said.

Apo and Anderson said they feel they need to hear firsthand the position of the FTA, which is reviewing the city's proposed $5.5 billion elevated rail system between Kapolei and Ala Moana.

They said they asked Lingle if they could accompany her on her planned trip to speak with FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff next month, but Lingle declined.

“;We need to have that information, and it's unfortunate the governor rebuffed our request,”; Anderson said.

Anderson said while he was in Washington, D.C., in November, the FTA told him the project's financial plan was acceptable despite the downturn in the economy.

According to the FTA, Anderson said, any change to construct a portion of the project at ground level would cause a lengthy delay and jeopardize federal funding.

Lingle spokesman Russell Pang said, “;The question is why didn't they go with the mayor”; when he visited the FTA earlier this month.