By: D. Kennedy
With an already-inflated price tag, Mayor Kirk Caldwell recently announced that Honolulu’s rail project could increase up to $13 billion and push the project’s completion date to 2033, due to financing problems and construction delays.
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Executive Director Andrew Robbins announced that the final phase of the rail in reaching Ala Moana will be divided up into phases. It is unclear whether or not the rail will now reach Ala Moana as plans continue to move the Oahu Jail (sitting between the two rail stops) and redevelop the site to include open space, retail, and housing.
“We’re talking about a $1.1 billion dollar difference between what HART says it’s going to cost and what I believe is a more realistic number. I’m hoping it’s more like 2030 but if things take longer in relocating utilities ― if there are challenges with funding ― it could take us out to 2033,” said Mayor Caldwell.
Mayor Caldwell sent a letter to avoid losing $250 million in federal grant money which was scheduled to lapse at the end of the year. The request made is to not allow that money to lapse and to extend the grant money by one year. They noted that they are comfortable moving forward to start releasing the money for the next calendar year, yet this isn’t the first time they’ve extended empty promises.
Voters would’ve never approved the rail if they were given the original completion date and budget amount. Keep in mind, 2033 is the most “optimistic estimate,” meaning it’s probably closer to 2040. Caldwell can’t say the rail is what the “people wanted.” Not a single person would’ve voted on a $13 billion rail. It’s incredible when projects like this are still ongoing and the people responsible are reelected.
Cities estimated that contractors would be building the remaining four miles of the guideway at a rate of 1/3 a mile each year.
“He pushed it all the way to 2033. That’s 13 years. It’s like we’re restarting the project from scratch. My anticipated total costs for this total project will be in the order of $13 billion,” said University of Hawaii Civil Engineering Professor Panos Prevedouros.
State Rep. John Mizuno claims this changes the whole economic picture without predictability or predictability in the project. If the rail does not reach Ala Moana, residents would have no rail options to get to jobs, schools, and other transportation closer to Waikiki. This is different from the plan originally voted on by the people of Hawai’i.
Typical liberal move to promise one thing and deliver another.