June 29, 2012

Honolulu rail project submits federal grant request

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) submitted a request for $1.55 billion in federal New Starts funding for the Honolulu rail transit project.

The Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) submittal is the final step in the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) planning and development process, which concludes in a multi-year agreement between the City and County of Honolulu and the FTA that formally establishes the level of federal funding for the rail project.

“We have reached an important milestone,” said HART CEO/Executive Director Dan Grabauskas. “Today is the culmination of nearly seven years of hard work by many dedicated individuals who have helped to move our rail transit project forward.”

After receiving Honolulu’s FFGA request, the FTA will take approximately 30 days to review it before forwarding the request to the Office of Management and Budget at the White House for its own 30-day review.

From there, the FTA will inform Congress of its intent to sign the agreement as part of a 60-day notification process. The completed agreement is expected to be finalized later this year.

Along with the FFGA request, HART provided FTA officials with an updated financial plan and other documents that include the scope, schedule and budget for the rail project. The new financial plan provides updated figures from the previous financial plan published in September 2011.

The new June 2012 project financial plan shows the following:

• The total estimated project cost decreasing from $5.17 billion to $5.16 billion.

• The GET revenue projection was adjusted to reflect actual collections, which resulted in an increase from $3.15 billion to $3.29 billion. The state began collecting the half-percent GET surcharge for the Honolulu rail system in January 2007. The GET for rail is set to expire at the end of 2022.

• The cash surplus at project completion increased from $83 million to $193 million.

• In accordance with the FTA guidelines and HART’s projected financial plan, the contingency reserve was reduced to 15 percent of the project’s cost.

• Use of estimated FTA Section 5307 formula funds for the project decreased from $244 million to $210 million.

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