As reported recently by the StarAdvertiser.com, the Honolulu elevated rail project has ben given the federal OK to break ground, as federal officials approved the EIS for Honolulu's mass transit system. This is a real milestone for Honolulu, which has tried for decades to implement rail transit as an alternative to car-based transportation into and out of Honolulu.
"The city expects to break ground on Honolulu's rail system in March, moving ahead with construction of the $5.5 billion transit project after receiving final environmental approval from the Federal Transit Administration." The 20-mile project has met all the requirements of the environmental review process, which has been the main hurdle to beginning work.
The paper article said, "The record of decision[issued by the FTA] states that the project, which would connect East Kapolei with Ala Moana Center, would save residents more than 20 million hours of travel time every year by 2030. The project also would be a boon for the local construction industry, which saw a 6% drop in jobs last year, city officials said.
"'What this project essentially means is one thing: jobs,' said acting mayor and city Managing Director Douglas Chin. 'Once it starts, this project will create thousands of jobs. It will fuel the city and state's economy.' One remaining hurdle is a pending application for a Special Management Area permit, which the City Council will decide on next week. Other permits are required but need only administrative approval from the city Department of Planning and Permitting."
Honolulu must also have a full-funding grant with the FTA by early 2012. This means about $1.5 billion in federal funding, or about 90%. Some advocates worry the Republican-controlled House may block these funds. Read more at the StarAdvertiser.com.
Whether or not you support the rail plan, I think everyone on the island agrees something needs to be done with the car traffic between Honolulu and the 2nd city, Kapolei. Stay tuned for more developments.