A few brief addenda to yesterday’s article about the timeline for federal funding for Honolulu’s rail project:
- The Federal Transit Administration clarified that the project is still undergoing internal review within FTA and has not yet been forwarded to the Obama Administration — specifically, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Secretary and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The FTA declined to speculate about when that might happen.
- If the Obama Administration completes its work before the end of the month, Congress would have 60 days to review the full funding grant agreement before the FTA signs it. However, a provision of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) takes effect Oct. 1, shortening that review window to 30 days. This means the notice could be submitted to Congress as late as Dec. 1 without pushing the FFGA into 2013. The letter would go to four committees: House Transportation and Infrastructure; Senate Banking; House Appropriations; and Senate Appropriations. No congressional approval is required.
- While Honolulu sees that notice of intent as the finish line for the FFGA application, the FTA says the letter is not a binding commitment to sign the funding guarantee. This means that the FTA could conceivably submit the paperwork to Congress and then change its mind about spending $1.55 billion in federal money on Honolulu rail if, for example, Ben Cayetano is elected mayor in the time while Congress is reviewing the documents.
Dan Grabauskas, Peter Carlisle, Ernie Martin and Carrie Okinaga are in Washington this week, and at least the mayor and the HART CEO are scheduled to meet with FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff Thursday afternoon. More information on that and other meetings as it becomes available.
— Michael Levine