Click on Image to see rail invitation

BY HAWAII REPORTER – The City and County of Honolulu is moving ahead with plans for its $5.5 billion rail transit system with the scheduling a groundbreaking ceremony later this month.

City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said she received an invitation from Mayor Peter Carlisle to the ceremonial groundbreaking and blessing on Feb. 22 in off of the Kualakai Parkway (North-South Road) in Kapolei.

“The time has come to pick up our o’o and turn the ‘aina as we move forward with this historic project that will improve the quality of life for island residents for decades to come,” says the invitation. An o’o is a large hardwood stick that was used by ancient Hawaiians in farming; in modern times koa wood replicas have been used during groundbreaking ceremonies.

The ceremony comes after decades of work to build a 20-mile elevated rail system, and just weeks after the city received a key Federal Transit Administration approval. Kobayashi said she was surprised the groundbreaking is moving ahead given challenges still pending against the project.

“First of all there are two lawsuits and we had all these questions for (city Director of Transportation Services) Wayne Yoshioka that are still unanswered, especially about financials,” Kobayashi said.

“Let’s get the financials first. That affects all of us.”

The city has done extensive work trying to build a rail system since it was first proposed more than 40 years ago. The current plan calls for the system to run from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center to alleviate growth of traffic congestion. Honolulu commuters were recently identified as having to spend 31 hours extra in their cars annually because of traffic.

Opponents have raised questions about whether enough work was done evaluating alternatives, whether enough financial study has been done on how to handle possible cost overruns and whether appropriate environmental analysis was done.

A state report ordered by former Gov. Linda Lingle raised the possibility of the system costing $1.7 billion or more than the city has forecast. More recently a lawsuit was filed claiming bidding for planning and other contracts may not have been done correctly while another alleged not enough work had been done to identify and protect native Hawaiian burial sites.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. No matter what the financials are, no matter the deficit, the 7 billion in sewage upgrades, the lawsuits, the no money yet from Congress, the Mayor is hell bent on starting this project. I thought he would be an independent thinker. Instead we have Mufi Part 2.

  2. This project is doomed and destined to be a financial fiasco. 5.5 billion will triple before the project is complete. there will be allegations proven and unproven of fraud, corruption and abuse.Why? because this is what happens on every construction project in a third world country.. and as far as governement goes we rival the best of them.

  3. Why couldn’t they build a more effective traffic congestion relief measure such as building an upper deck on the H1 from Pearl Harbor to Kapolei?

    They’re talking about all the jobs to be created (3200 at the height of construction), but no one mentions that these are all temporary jobs and nothing permanent is created other than people to operate and maintain the train.

    Why does it have to be above ground the entire way through downtown? Why can’t it run on the existing sugar cane train right-of-way from Waianae to Ewa, then go below ground all the way out to Hawaii Kai? It’s bypassing Ewa Beach and will stop at the future UH West Oahu campus site. Why?

    This project is doomed from the start. When federal funding dries up, remember the politicians who vote to increase taxes to pay for this boondoggle.

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