Hawaii rail agency requests lobbyists amid funding issues | National Government and Political News

HONOLULU (AP) — The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has issued proposal requests to hire a federal lobbyist and a board consultant to lobby officials.

The organization responsible for creating Honolulu’s rail line faces a project shortfall of about $3 billion, HART interim CEO Lori Kahikina said Wednesday.

HART said it plans on spending about $1 million over the next several years on federal lobbyists. The organization added that it is planning on hiring the lobbyists to raise funding for the financially plagued rail system.

“I did not initiate this, but I am in full support of this because any support we can get is needed,” Kahikina said.

The request was submitted as the organization prepares a plan to pay for the final leg of the 20-mile (32-kilometer) rail project from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. The federal government in December gave the agency a one-year extension on a deadline to detail its plans.

HART must now submit its plans by the end of the year.

The organization had spent about $320,000 a year to lobby the federal government. But former CEO Andrew Robbins ended the practice two years ago after the rail system’s cost increased substantially.

The project is expected to cost almost double the price and take eight years longer to build than initially expected.

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