Tuesday, February 2, 2010

FTA Will Pay for Honolulu's Rail... Maybe 25% of Cost ... in 2011

FTA commits $1.55 billion to pay for Honolulu rail system says today's breaking news (http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20100202/BREAKING01/100202030/F).

That sounds like such good news for Hannemann but it is not. The article says that IF all environmental reviews complete successfully, then FTA may be able to release construction money on or after September 30, 2011.

Note that there is no word on possible lawsuits against the FTA and the delays that they will cause. HonoluluTraffic.com sued the FTA in 2002 and achieved the impossible: FTA pulled the plug by rescinding the Record on Decision for Mayor Harris' Bus Rapid Transit proposal.

Also if you try to read between the lines, you will discover these two gems of truth:
  • "But please know that the FTA also takes an independent look at the finances of this project and we will do so again when they submit a financial plan to get into final design."
  • Groundbreaking on the elevated commuter rail was supposed to take place in December, but has been indefinitely delayed by an ongoing federal review...
Now this "good news" came out today from the President's budget which will be taken apart by Congress in the coming months, much like his health care bill. The funding for Mufi's rail may survive, or may not. This is a "make work" bridge-to-nowhere project and the fiscal outlook for it is bleak.

The guestimate I made yesterday that this project may start on 12/12/12 stands!

And in case you did not notice, the FTA subsidy will cover roughly only 25% of the budgeted cost, but with minor cost overruns the cost to the local taxpayer will be $4.5 billion, or $4,500 million. Furthermore, the imported rail equipment will cost more than the FTA contribution. So all of the FTA money will go to mainland, Canada, German or Korean suppliers. No FTA money will reach Oahu.