KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rail supporters called it a momentous day as work is underway on the actual guideway that will carry Honolulu's rail project. Some of those columns have been standing out in a field for a couple years now. Now they are being connected. While work is really just ramping up talks have begun on adding more rail routes.
The pieces are coming together. The first span connecting the columns is going up. Once crews work out the kinks they plan to build two spans a week.
"It's a great day for us," said Dan Grabauskas, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation CEO.
It's a lot of heavy equipment. That's all good out in the middle of these fields, but what is going to happen when that work gets into the tighter corridors of urban Honolulu?
Turns out the huge trusses will not come down. They'll slide along the entire 20 mile route and the cranes that lift the individual 50 ton segments will sit on top of the guideway.
"So really the only space we need is for a truck to pull up next to the guideway, the crane will sit up on top and pick from there. It will become a lot more efficient and a lot smaller operation as we move forward," said Lance Wilhelm, Kiewit Infrastructure Senior Vice President.
However cars won't be able to drive underneath while they're working so there will be detours and delays for drivers, but not the project itself.
"We're not going to let anything slow us down at this point. There was a delay because of some lawsuits and now we're going full steam ahead," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor.
The Mayor is already focusing on extending the route to UH Manoa, downtown Kapolei and Salt Lake neighborhoods, which would require extending the half cent tax that was supposed to sunset in 2022.
"I think we should start talking now about continuing the segment up to UH. Everyone says it should go up to UH Manoa. I agree it should. So it's time I think to talk about it. One of those things is how do we finance it. We know there has to be a local component. That tax could be continued," said Mayor Caldwell.
The Mayor has already started talking to Lawmakers about the tax extension.
"I wouldn't say it's a done deal. But I think they are open to further discussion on this issue," said Mayor Caldwell.
The first 10 miles from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium are supposed to be finished in 2017 and the rest of the route to Ala Moana Shopping Center by 2019 all for the $5.3 billion price tag.