City Council approves slimmed down rail construction plan, but not everyone is on board

The financially troubled rail project’s recovery plan now goes to the feds.
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 8:08 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 12:45 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council approved the financially troubled rail project’s recovery plan on Wednesday.

However, it was not a unanimous vote. The City Council voted 6-3 to approve the plan.

Officials said the plan will shorten the rail route to Kakaako and eliminate a $330 million parking structure at the Pearl Highlands station.

In addition, they said the recovery plan will keep costs under $10 billion, allowing the city to qualify for the remaining $744 million of federal funding.

Council members who voted against the recovery plan said it takes away too much money from core city services and shortchanges Central Oahu commuters.

“Is this the best recovery plan we can put together?” said City Councilmember Augie Tulba.

“I’m not confident that this is the best plan.”

City Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi said the Pearl Highlands parking structure is necessary to ease traffic congestion created by new housing developments like Koa Ridge.

But the city said the structure is too expensive.

“People are getting a project where the things important to them are getting taken out,” Tsuneyoshi said.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said the last thing he wants to do is give up on a garage for Central Oahu for what it represents.

He added “We went round and round (but) we couldn’t pencil out a $330 million garage for 1,600 stalls or $206,000 per stall.”

The recovery plan must be sent to the federal government by June 30.

City Council Chair Tommy Waters said getting the plan to the government is necessary.

“Unless we get this done and get it the federal government, they’re not going to resume federal funding.”

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