Hawaii scrambles to keep train project from going off rails

In this May 18, 2017 photo, a rail line under construction stops abruptly in a field in the Honolulu suburb of East Kapolei, Hawaii. Honolulu’s planned $9.5 billion rail transit project is one of the most expensive per capita in the nation. But it’s facing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, and the future of the project is in jeopardy. Hawaii lawmakers are meeting this week to decide how to cover a budget shortfall as high as $3 billion. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)

HONOLULU (AP) – Honolulu’s planned $9.5 billion rail transit project is one of the most expensive per capita in the nation.

But it’s facing a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, and the future of the project is in jeopardy. State lawmakers failed to plug a funding gap before the legislative session ended.

Hawaii lawmakers are meeting this week to decide how to cover a budget shortfall as high as $3 billion.

If a solution isn’t found, the federal government could demand that Honolulu return more than $800 million of federal money already spent.

Transit experts around the country say it doesn’t make sense to build such a costly rail line in a city with a small population. They warn that spending so much money on rail could divert funding from other sources, including buses.

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