Congressman Mark Takai Seeks $100 Million to Improve Farrington Hwy and Kamehameha Hwy

Photo of Congressman Mark Takai (HI-01) speaking to reporters during the press conference held today in regards to the letter sent to the Federal Highway Administration.

Photo of Congressman Mark Takai (HI-01) speaking to reporters during the press conference held today in regards to the letter sent to the Federal Highway Administration.

Honolulu 31 Aug. 2015 – Today, alongside busy Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City, Congressman Mark Takai (HI-01) announced that he has sent a letter to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) requesting that the FHA grant the State of Hawaii permission to use federal Highway Trust Funds for ongoing and upcoming rehabilitation projects for Farrington Highway in Waipahu, and Kamehameha Highway in Aiea/Pearl City.

The State of Hawaii has accumulated a backlog of federal Highway Trust Funds over the last few years, which if remained unspent, will threaten its ability to receive Trust Funds in the future.

“When I first learned of the State’s backlog of federal Highway Trust Funds, I was absolutely shocked. I could not believe that the State was so far behind in using these valuable dollars for much needed road repairs and improvements” Takai said.

“But earlier this year, at the invitation of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, I was able to meet with local and regional officials of the Federal Highway Administration and the State Department of Transportation, and I was happy to hear that the State, in collaboration with FHA, has begun to address this backlog and have made improvements internally to speed up the process of getting more projects qualified and approved,” Takai continued.

From a high of approximately $950 million in unspent Highway Trust Fund dollars at the end of 2014, the State of Hawaii has reduced that backlog by over $200 million since the beginning of this year. 

“While I’m impressed with the improvements the State has made, I am still concerned that the rate at which we will reduce this backlog may still be too slow and will continue to jeopardize our receipt of future Trust Funds,” Takai said.

“That is one of the reasons why I wrote to Gregory Nadeau, Acting Administrator of the FHA, to ask him to authorize the use of about $100 million in Trust Funds for two very important roadway projects on Kamehameha Highway and Farrington Highway,” Takai added.

“The second reason that I believe that the use of Trust Funds on these projects is appropriate and necessary, is that the construction of the rail project has now required improvements to these two roadways. As we all know, the rail project is cash-strapped and any funding alternatives to the project, whether direct or indirect, helps benefits not just the users of the roadway, but all residents in general. I think this is a ‘win-win solution’ for everyone,” he said.

“The traffic corridors of Kamehameha Highway and Farrington Highway that run from Aiea to Waipahu serve as a vital artery for our residents, businesses and the military. We need funding now, to improve them as the rail project dictates, and we have a ready-made solution in federal Highway Trust Funds that the State already has already obtained from the FHA. All we need is approval to use those funds for these projects,” Takai concluded.

The letter that Takai sent to Acting Federal Highways Administrator Gregory Nadaeu requests that the FHA grant the State of Hawaii the authority to use federal Highway Trust Fund dollars to make the required improvements to Kamehameha Highway and Farrington Highway as now required because of the construction of the Rail Project.

Related article: Takai Highway Proposal Is Much More Than a Rail Bailout (Civil Beat 9/8/15).

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