The passenger rail system under construction in the Honolulu area will be elevated on support structures.

DALLAS — Oahu's $5.26 billion elevated rail transit system is running at least $500 million over budget, according to a financial report from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit.

HART officials warned at a meeting in Oahu's Kapolei district that the project could cost taxpayers 10% to 15% more than planned.

The overruns were blamed on lagging tax revenues, fast-rising construction costs and project delays.

The HART report recommends extending the 0.5% general excise tax surcharge for Oahu, which is scheduled to expire in 2022.

HART officials said Honolulu will need to find $210 million if the city wants to avoid tapping more than $200 million in federal funds designed for the city's bus system.

The 5307 federal Urbanized Area Formula Program funds were included in the financial plan to build rail as a financial backup, despite questions from elected leaders and bus advocates. Federal transit officials also warned against using the funding for rail, noting Honolulu's aging bus fleet.

President Obama included $250 million in his fiscal year 2015 budget for the $5.2 billion Oahu elevated rail transit project.

The Federal Transit Administration signed an agreement with the City and County of Honolulu in December 2012 for a federal New Starts grant to provide a total of $1.55 billion in funding for the project over the next several years.

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