by Andrew Walden
HART has no plan, but, as usual, they claim to be working on it.
In a March 15, 2022, tweet, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi wrote:
"We submitted a Recovery Plan to the FTA, proposing to amend the Full Funding Grant Agreement to the following scope: 18.75 miles/19 stations through Downtown, to the Civic Center Station, which is 1.25 miles and 2 stations short of Ala Moana Center."
The tweet has apparently been deleted.
In his State of the City address, March 15, 2022, Blangiardi was more circumspect:
“…we are in the process of completing our recovery plan by June 30th and our strategy includes receiving the entire remaining balance of $744M….”
Blangiardi’s address came on the heels of his March 9-12, 2022, visit to Washington, DC, for meetings with the Federal Transportation Administration which since 2015 has been holding onto $744M of federal funds until HART comes up with an acceptable ‘recovery plan.’
Apparently the FTA did spend much time listening to more excuses from Honolulu, home of the most expensive cost-per-person rail transit project on Earth. A March 11, 2022, news release from the Mayor’s office explains:
Joining Mayor Blangiardi at the FTA meetings were Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) CEO Lori Kahikina and Honolulu Department of Transportation Services Director Roger Morton. They updated the Administrator on project construction progress, the system operating plan and potential elements of the Recovery Plan that HART is preparing for the FTA’s consideration.
Mayor Blangiardi said, “…this was a very quick turn-around trip for me….”
The Council also has not seen any ‘Recovery Plan’. After hearing the State of the City address, Honolulu Council Chair Tommy Waters said:
“This Council has collaboratively worked with the City Administration on the rail project and we look forward to reviewing the Recovery Plan the Mayor talked about today. We will give it the careful consideration it deserves when it is shared with us.”
In response to a query from Hawai’i Free Press, Harry Cho, HART spokesperson emailed:
HART is drafting the Recovery Plan at the moment, and the next steps are to present it publicly first to the HART Board and then present the next iteration to the City Council. The public will have an opportunity to review the plan when the HART Board meets about the Recovery Plan, and again when the City Council discusses it at a forthcoming City Council meeting. The draft will be posted to both organizations' respective agendas for review.