On Monday, the people of Hawaii lost a tireless champion, Senator Daniel Inouye. A Medal of Honor awardee for his wartime valor, the first Japanese-American in the U.S. Congress, and a truly bipartisan colleague--Senator Inouye's passing is a loss for all of us.
So it is fitting that, this morning, I joined the Senator's wife Irene and many others to celebrate the signing of a grant agreement to help fund the Honolulu rail transit system. This important project, for which Senator Inouye advocated strongly, will be a valuable part of the Senator's legacy.
The funding agreement signed today seals the Federal Transit Administration's commitment to a 20-mile rail line with 21 stations connecting riders to key education, employment, and activity centers in Honolulu.
This new line, Hawaii's first-ever rail transit system, means that thousands of commuters who are forced to sit in traffic on the H-1 --one of the most congested highways in America-- will finally get some relief. For workers who commute into Honolulu every day from West Oahu, riding rail transit will mean saving more than 30 minutes each way.
This is a terrific project that will generate jobs over the next several years, improve air quality, and spur new economic development. In city after city, I’ve seen first-hand the tremendous opportunities that transit investments create for communities. By providing reliable, affordable access to jobs, schools, and other vital services, we’re helping people pursue their dreams.
And this project, one that Senator Inouye worked hard to see become a reality, will do exactly that.
The Senator isn't the only one who demonstrated his dedication to this project. The people of Oahu have signaled their own commitment by voting a half-cent tax to fund two-thirds of the new line's construction. I want to thank the taxpayers of Oahu for this bold choice.
Together, we are going to build a modern public transportation system that lives up to the vision of Senator Inouye and serves generations of Hawaiians long into the future.