Feds Sign $1.55 Billion Federal Funding Agreement to Build First Rail Transit System in Hawaii

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Dec. 19 signed an agreement to provide $1.55 billion in taxpayer money to the city and county of Honolulu on the island of Oahu to build Hawaii’s first-ever rail transit system.

The project is expected to shorten commutes in one of the most congested cities in the nation, provide greater transit options to Oahu’s residents and visitors, and create tens of thousands of construction-related jobs.

“The Honolulu rail transit project, the first of its kind in the state, will bring new transit options to the growing region and create a modern transportation system that is built to last for future generations,” LaHood said. “And though, sadly, Senator Inouye cannot be here with us today, this agreement is a testament to his tireless advocacy on behalf of his state and its people.”

Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff signed the actual federal funding agreement at a ceremony in Washington D.C. today. Secretary LaHood and Administrator Rogoff were joined by Senator Daniel Akaka, Senator-Elect Mazie Hirono, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) CEO Dan Grabauskas and City Council Chairman Ernest Martin.

The funding agreement seals the federal commitment to the project – a 20-mile rail line with 21 rail stations that will connect riders with key education, employment and activity centers in Honolulu. The rail corridor encompasses West Oahu, Pearl City, Aloha Stadium, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Honolulu International Airport, downtown Honolulu, and Ala Moana Center, Oahu’s largest shopping center. HART estimates that the project could generate as many as 10,000 jobs annually during construction.