How is the Proposed Honolulu Rail Progressing: Taxpayers Deserve an Assessment

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BY JOHN BRIZDLE – Now is a perfect time to examine how the rail project is progressing. We have (or soon will have) newly elected representatives on the Honolulu City Council, at the State Legislature, in the Governor’s office and in the Mayor’s office.

These representatives will want to get up-to-speed on the project. Also, at this time, the city cannot start construction even if the new Governor signs off on the Environmental Impact Statement because the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) permission takes months.

So, how is the rail project doing? If rail magically became a reality next week, would we like what we see?

Will vehicle commuters notice a reduction in traffic congestion when rail begins? Will transit commuters, who use rail, like their commute? There has never been an independent investigative report on these questions.

How is the value proposition coming? Are the plans worth taking 4 billion dollars from the taxpayers on Oahu? If the plans do need a few extra dollars, where will these dollars come from? There has never been an independent investigative report on these questions.

Are there details in the rail project, like the underground support structure for the 700 support columns, which have not been explained by former Mayor Mufi Hannemann or the press? How can we get these details into the rail discussion sooner rather than later?

There is an ongoing debate that focuses on the Alternatives Analysis. Did the Hannemann administration look at all the alternatives or not? There are lawsuits waiting in the wings to argue this question. There has never been an independent investigation into these claims.

There is an ongoing debate over the question of whether rail will be “Green” or not. There has never been an independent investigation into this claim.

Finally, what are the actual FTA requirements for Honolulu to move forward with rail? This is a good time to let the public see the internal FTA documents sent to our city. Again, there has never been an independent investigation into what the FTA requires after the EIS is signed.

So, we have interested parties and time to review the rail project. Who will do the research? Who will the interested parties trust to examine rail’s progress? Are we just going to sit back and trust the rail information we received from the Hannemann administration? The taxpayers and our elected representatives deserve clarity on these important questions. Now is the perfect time!

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John L. Brizdle has been involved in the Hawaii Tourism industry since 1974. His background in the industry includes Tour and Trolley Company ownership on Oahu with E Noa Corporation (1974-1995). During that time Mr. Brizdle participated in numerous community activities including: Interpret Hawaii training at Kapiolani Community College, Hawaii Activities and Attractions Association President, and Hawaii Transportation Association Board of Directors. Since leaving E Noa Corporation, he has been a Consultant for the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau (1998-2002), and Publisher of the book, "Streetcar Days in Honolulu".

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