LOS ANGELES — Hawaii Gov. David Ige affirmed his support of Oahu's $6 billion elevated rail project, but added he will be pressing for cost containment in his State of the State speech Jan. 26.
Ige declined comment on whether he would support efforts by Honolulu Mayor Kurt Caldwell and rail officials to extend a 0.5% general excise tax beyond its current 2020 sunset to help fund the project. Nor did he go into specifics on what measures he would like rail officials to take to reduce costs on the 20-mile project.
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials released financial information in late December estimating the project was going to cost $500 million to $700 million more than originally anticipated. The project was once estimated to cost $5.2 billion.
The GET surcharge is supposed to bring in $3.4 billion over its life, but is running 3% behind projections.
The Honolulu City Council are slated to discuss on Feb. 11 a memorandum of understanding between HART and the city laying out the terms by which the city would issue general obligation bonds and commercial paper for the rail authority. HART wants to issue $350 million in commercial paper and $20 million in variable rate bonds in June.
City council members asked HART chief executive officer Dan Grabauskas pointed questions during the initial hearing held on the MOU Jan. 14, before deferring a decision to a later meeting.