WASHINGTON, D.C. — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other officials said they were encouraged about continued federal funding for the city’s rail project after meeting with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Tuesday.

The federal government last year had signed a $1.55 billion full funding agreement for the project, which was pushed in Congress by the late Sen. Dan Inouye. While there wasn’t much doubt that the Federal Transit Administration would come through with the money, there were slight questions about whether the funding would be affected by sequestration and the tight budget picture.

At the same time, the Honolulu mayor’s race last year had included an anti-rail candidate, Ben Cayetano. The visit by Caldwell, Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas, and HART Board Chair Carrie Okinaga was in part to reinforce that city officials are fully behind the project.

“It was very, very positive. There was nothing but positive,” Caldwell said after meeting with LaHood at the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Earlier, the delegation met with Racquel Russell, Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs and Economic Mobility, in the executive office building inside the White House complex.

Grabauskas noted that President Barack Obama proposed fully funding the $250 million requested for the project.

Not counting the next year’s funding, the federal government has already contributed $556 million toward the full $1.55 billion.

The city officials also met with Rep. Colleen Hanabusa on the day news broke about Hanabusa telling Senate Democratic campaign officials she will be challenging Sen. Brian Schatz next year. Caldwell, though, said the topic never came up during the meeting. “It was strictly about rail,” he said.

Grabauskas said Hanabusa expressed support for the project and described it as part of Inouye’s legacy.

The officials are scheduled to meet with Schatz and the other members of the Congressional delegation on Wednesday before heading home on Thursday.

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