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Feds Delaying Rail Funding, Citing Concerns About The Project


The Federal Transit Administration is withholding payments for Honolulu's rail system until officials make changes to its plan to get the $9 billion project back on track.

The FTA has raised concerns about portions of the project's recovery plan, said Andrew Robbins, executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, speaking to reporters today. The recovery plan sets out the steps that the city must take to move foward with the troubled rail system.

HART said federal transportation officials also want modifications to the project financial plan that takes into account the delays in the FTA funds. FTA has proposed withholding funding until February 2020. When funding resumes, officials expect to receive $250 million in the calendar year, with additional funds expected through 2025.

But FTA first wants the city to address its concerns.

Credit Casey Harlow
HART Executive Director and CEO Andrew Robbins speaking to reporters about the FTA's decision to withhold funds until 2020.

"FTA wants to see what the cost of the City Center contract is before releasing funds," Robbins said. HART plans to share information about the contract with FTA at the officials' next meeting at the end of the month.

FTA also expressed concern about a city subsidy provision in the recovery plan and wants HART to revert back to the 2017 version of the plan, something that HART opposes and calls "inappropriate at this time."

The latest developments will likely be taken up in the next meeting of the City Council budget committee.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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