HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A recent poll showed 53 percent of people on Oahu want rail stopped and 43 percent want it to forge ahead. On Monday, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) once again threw his strong support behind the $5.3 billion project.
"The rail system is one system that will bring Waipahu closer to Honolulu, Ewa closer to Honolulu. And it's about time we did that," he said at a press conference in his office at the Prince Kuhio Federal Building.
Inouye said building the train will help Oahu's economy. He said once the elevated steel-on-steel system is up, it will improve people's attitudes, and give commuters from the Ewa plain a fair shake.
"Why should we have places like just Kahala or Waialae Iki? But if you happen to live out there, forget about it," he said.
Inouye said former Gov. Ben Cayetano's run for Honolulu mayor on an anti-rail platform will pose a formidable challenge to incumbent Peter Carlisle and former acting mayor Kirk Caldwell.
But he warned that the train will leave the station if this opportunity is missed.
"I don't think we will have another attempt at setting up a rail system if this fails," he said.
As for the race to fill retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka's seat, Inouye said he supports Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, and will help her in her primary race against Democratic challenger Ed Case, who fell out of Inouye's favor when he ran against Akaka in 2006.
"When I am hoodwinked, I'm not too happy about it." he said.
Inouye said he told the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Hirono has the edge because of her seat in the House of Representatives.
On former Gov. Linda Lingle's Republican bid for the Senate, Inouye said he doesn't take her for granted. But if she's elected it would add a challenge for Hawaii's democratic controlled delegation.
"I hope the others would join me in making certain that the delegation, which is a small one, can work together as a team," he said. "We've done that from day one."
Inouye said if the U.S. Senate falls under Republican control, he'll have no problem working in a bi-partisan fashion.