City seeks $20M for first stage of bus line
By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer
The city plans to seek almost $20 million in federal money to complete the first segment of its planned Bus Rapid Transit system from Iwilei to Waikiki, officials said yesterday.
The money would be used to widen roads along the route, change traffic signals, build elevated bus stations and make other roadway improvements, said Transportation Services director Cheryl Soon.
The federal money will help finish the first line in the project, the subject of much dispute.
The city has authorized spending $31 million in local money for the initial line, which will use hybrid electric-gas buses making limited stops along the growing Kaka'ako waterfront area.
"It's been a very long process, but we're trying to bring all the pieces together now," Soon said.
Members of the City Council Transportation Committee yesterday approved a city request to include the project on an islandwide Transportation Improvement Program list, a necessary step before the money can be approved by the federal government.
The move came one week after the full City Council urged the city to halt all BRT work until the federal money was approved, and after federal officials warned the city not to expect money for new transit projects unless local financing is locked in place first.
Several committee members still had reservations about the money for the BRT line, which the city administration envisions as the first leg in a bus rapid transit network that eventually will extend to Kapolei.
Councilman Romy Cachola said many residents still believe that the federal government will pay for up to 80 percent of the full project.
In reality, the city will be paying more than 60 percent of the first segment's total $51 million cost, he said.
"Completing the whole regional BRT may expose our taxpayers to even higher costs than we thought," Cachola said.
Reach Mike Leidemann at 525-5460 or email@example.com.