Mayor claims state's rail review is flawed - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mayor claims state's rail review is flawed

Mayor Peter Carlisle Mayor Peter Carlisle
Thomas Rubin Thomas Rubin
Rail system visualization Rail system visualization
Panos Prevedouros Panos Prevedouros

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Even before Mayor Peter Carlisle read the report he already had his doubts about the accuracy of the findings.

"The second it was seen red flags went off all around town," said Mayor Carlisle, during a press conference in his office.

That's because he says a contributor to the report was a man named Thomas Rubin.

"This guy is always against rail," said Carlisle.  "Therefore it is no surprise the report is a predetermined, anti rail rant."

The report found the project would require $1.7 billion more than expected. In order to make up the difference taxes would need to be raised over a longer period of time. 

But Carlisle says that's not true.  The General Excise Tax is 99 percent on track and has raised $580 million since 2007.

"Spending a third of a million dollars for this shoddy, biased analysis and is an appalling waste of tax dollars," said Carlisle, about the report which was initiated by Governor Linda Lingle's office.

That said, is Carlisle worried that any of the negative findings in the report will come true and people will say I told you so?

"Not in the slightest," Carlisle said bluntly.

And he says there's virtually no chance of the rail project stopping now.

"Well there's a chance, we could get struck by lightning, we could all die tomorrow but do I think there is a reasonable likelihood that this thing that has been voted on by the people, is recognized as a critical infrastructure that we need here on the island of Oahu, not going forward, no," responded Carlisle.

Not everyone who listened in on the mayor's comments was as convinced.

"If we're going to be stuck with some of these bills it's going to be really tough," said Ann Kobayashi, Honolulu City Councilmember.  "Money is still a concern."

"We must not believe the city's numbers," said Panos Prevedouros, University of Hawaii, Manoa engineering professor.

Panos Prevedouros says if the figures in the report come true the rail would cost nearly $10,000 per person to build.  He and others worry the project could bankrupt the state.

"Stop it. We don't need it and cannot afford it," said Prevedouros. "It is obvious that the system is very expensive, it has the potential to become outrageously expensive and there is not enough money for it."

Carlisle also criticized the report because he says Prevedouros was contacted for his input.  Prevedouros admits he was asked about some information and provided a link to his blog, but overall spent less than an hour on the report.

As for other reactions to the financial report, Senator Daniel Inouye's press secretary Peter Boylan wrote, "Senator Inouye remains committed to the rail transit project and will continue to work to secure the necessary federal funding. For too long, too many of Oahu's residents have been forced to battle gridlock to and from work. The rail transit project will help Hawaii decrease its dependence on imported fossil fuels by providing an alternative to driving and by decreasing traffic congestion on Oahu."

As for Governor Linda Lingle, her last day in office is Monday.  Her press secretary Russell Pang said she will leave the analysis of the report to the people who will make the decisions on the project.

On that note Mayor Carlisle says he plans to speak with Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie about the rail project in the very near future.  Carlisle says he wants to move forward with ground breaking as soon as possible.

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