It looks like a major obstacle to the Honolulu rail project has been overcome.

If that’s the case, and we should know next week, the final hurdles for the $5 billion project would be a federal lawsuit, which will be heard next week, and the firm guarantee of $1.5 billion in federal funds after the project receives permission to enter the final design phase.

The CEO of Ansaldo STS, the company largely responsible for a $1.4 billion contract to design, build, operate and maintain Honolulu’s proposed rail system, flew here from Italy to appear personally Friday before a joint-committee of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Finance Committee Chairman Don Horner appeared satisfied after the meeting that the company had satisfactorily addressed financial concerns that had emerged recently, causing HART to delay signing the contract. He said he was encouraged by the presentation by Sergio De Luca, and that after putting “a bright light” on the procurement process he remains confident that it’s been sound.

HART Interim Executive Director Toru Hamayasu told the committee he believed the contract could be signed next week after his staff had time for a final review of the latest information submitted by Ansaldo.

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