BY HARVEY BERLINER – News of the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to pull the plug on its rail tunneling project reinforces the fact that Honolulu made the right decision in keeping its system elevated and on a timely track.
While the east coast system is clearly more complex — with multiple jurisdictions, a myriad of political interests and numerous problems — it also underscores the perils of taking a major transportation project underground. Tunneling typically unearths far more risks, delays and costs than a tried-and-true above-ground system.
Gov. Christie’s recognition that the New Jersey project has simply gone on for far too long, mired in expensive delays and detours, also reinforces the need to keep Honolulu’s project moving at a prudent pace.
Honolulu’s taxpayers should know that its rail project has a sound financial plan, sensible cost-overrun contingencies and regular monthly reviews on all fronts by a team of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) experts.
Lessons learned from New Jersey: Stay elevated and stay on course.
Harvey Berliner is the Deputy Project Officer, Design and Construction for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project