The federal government has finally given the green light that will allow Hawaii rail to start being built. According to the Federal Transportation Administration (FDA), a key approval has finally been granted that will allow the city to immediately begin up to $184.7 million in construction and other activities on the city’s rail project. This includes erecting the first sections of raised guideway from East Kapolei to Pearl Highlands.
The approval was announced Monday by none other than U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. The announcement will allow Hawaii to go ahead and move forward with the project, despite having the $1.55 billion share of funding for the 20-mile rail project that will be provided by federal assistance. The city hopes to obtain a final commitment for federal assistance by October.
“We have debated and discussed a rail transit plan for Oahu for decades, and I am very pleased that the administration is allowing the city to proceed with construction,” Inouye said in a written statement. “Too many hard working families on the West side of the island spend too much of their time stuck in traffic. This project offers an alternative to driving and helps lessen our dependence on imported fossil fuels.” This looks like a done deal, after plenty of “on again / off again issues with the rail.
So what are your feelings on the rail project? Hawaii obviously needs some sort of transit system like this. “The Bus” isn’t enough, and even if you are opposed to the rail, you will probably agree that something needs to be done. So if not rail, then what?
The entire 20-mile rail line will extend from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center and will cost an estimated $5.27 billion. Most of that funding will come from a half-percent excise tax surcharge levied on Oahu residents and visitors.
Rail opponents warned last year they likely would file for a preliminary injunction if the city proceeded with heavy construction. But further legal analysis suggests the upcoming work the city is planning on West Oahu agricultural lands would not legally justify a preliminary injunction, longtime opponent Cliff Slater said in a statement Monday after the announcement.
There had been some major fighting over the rail, as big names have taken sides and stated their cases over the last few years. However, something does have to be done or there will be no room to drive by 2020.
The debate has gotten so heated at times, that even former Hawaii State Governor Ben Cayetano announced that he would be running for Mayor of Hawaii. His main goal…. to stop the rail project from happening. This seems like a personal vendetta reason for running, which we all know is not a great way to run a campaign. Will Cayetano still run after today’s news? Who knows, and it probably would not matter now anyway.
I for one am for rail, but I also understand some if the issues that people have with it. With that being said, what would you do instead?
Take a second to vote in our poll, then comment on what you would do instead, or simply speak you mind on Hawaii rail.