BY JIM DOOLEY – Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and City Council chairman Ernie Martin reacted quickly and
negatively to Ben Cayetano’s plan for a new Honolulu transportation plan.
Both men recently met in Washington with federal transit officials and congressional leaders and said they were told that if anti-rail mayoral candidate Cayetano is elected in November, Honolulu would lose $1.55 billion in rail funding and be forced to begin a long, involved new application for financial support from Wshington.
“We would definitely lose our place in line,” said Carlisle, whose lost his bid for reelection to former Governor Cayetano and challenger Kirk Caldwell.
The general election is slightly more than a month away.
Although Cayetano said today that federal officials “should be happy” with his new Honolulu transportation plan, Carlisle said that’s not likely to happen.
Honolulu has started and stopped twice before in seeking rapid transit dollars from Washington and if the $5.2 billion rail line project is aborted, “the feds are never going to believe us for the rest of our lives,” Carlisle said.
Both men scoffed at Cayetano’s assertion that his new transportation plan, which centers on increased bus service,
could be fully operational within four years.
Cayetano’s approach may require preparation of a new environmental impact statement — a long, time-consuming task, said Carlisle.
“It took us seven years to get this point” with the elevated rail project, Carlisle said.
Cayetano’s four-year timeline and estimated project cost of $1.1 billion are “numbers that seem to be virtually nonsensical,” said the mayor.
Martin, who will work with the next mayor, was more restrained in his response to Cayetano’s four-year project completion date.
“Four years is very ambitious. Based on what needs to be done, it would be very tough,” said Martin.
And he pointed that the next mayor will be faced with a City Council that is “very strongly aligned with the rail project.”
Political dynamics at City Hall “can introduce delays” to any new transportation programs, Martin said.