WASHINGTON — Honolulu is eligible for $510 million in rail funding next year, but the city has just over one year to advance the project to a point where it can obtain that federal funding.

Congress is giving the city 13 months to enter into a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the federal government.

If the project does not reach that stage by Dec. 31, 2012, the funding eligibility will expire, according to a wide-ranging spending bill that President Barack Obama signed into law on Nov. 18.

The city is asking the federal government for $1.55 billion to help pay for the $5.2 billion project. The grand agreement represents the lion’s share of federal funds that make the rail project possible.

“Federal funds are hard to come by in the current budget climate,” said Sen. Daniel Inouye in a statement. “We have planned this project and debated its merits for decades and we must move forward. We must set aside our differences and work together.”

Sen. Daniel Akaka echoed his colleague, and said that the city “must continue moving forward” to secure federal monies.

Michael Levine contributed to this report.

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