Rail plan catches friction from Kamehameha Schools - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Rail plan catches friction from Kamehameha Schools

Mayor Mufi Hannemann Mayor Mufi Hannemann

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Oahu's rail transit plan is moving full speed ahead. But a Kamehameha Schools report wants it to come to a screeching halt, after it finds a different route, partly at ground level that they say could save the city billions of dollars. The mayor is adamantly against the school's plan.

Kamehameha Schools is keeping a close eye on this project. That's mostly because it owns the sites where four of the proposed train stations would be built.

Its report says a partially ground-level train could cost less, and it would look better than an entirely elevated one.

The first phase of Oahu's rail transit system is scheduled to begin in 10 years, linking East Kapolei to Waipahu.

But Kamehameha Schools and its consultant have much different plans. Its report suggests that a train traveling at ground level halfway, combined with bus stop style stations would cost nearly two-billion dollars less than the current project.

"What they're trying to do here really makes no sense at all, if you look at the report, there are some very serious misstatements," Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann said.

The report proposes building the rail system at ground level from East Kapolei to Waipahu and from Middle Street to Ala Moana Center. Only the part from Waipahu to Middle Street would be elevated.

It also says the reduction of cost could help the city pay for the rail. This after recent tax collections were lower than expected. But the mayor doesn't buy it.

"Their consultant failed to discuss his findings with the city, we would have liked to sit down with him, 'cuz it's clear he's not a transportation expert by any means," Hannemann said.

The Kamehameha Schools route is nearly the same as the city's route until it reaches urban Honolulu. The mayor has issues with this and the ground level alternative, among many other things.

"They say they only have to trench 9 to 17 inches, that's false, most Iwi is found 5 feet or less, secondly, they say it will travel faster, and also that's not true, at grade causes accidents," Hannemann said.

The mayor says the current plan in place won't change, whether the school likes it or not.

"They're gonna greatly jeopardize the timetable the more they try to delay, this project and what I say now is it's not so much the longer we delay, the more we gonna pay, the longer we delay, the money goes away," Hannemann said.

Messages to Kamehameha Schools Sunday were not returned.

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