HART unveils first mile of rail guideway

First mile of rail guideway is up
Published: Dec. 3, 2014 at 9:32 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 4, 2014 at 11:20 AM HST
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Honolulu Rail
Honolulu Rail
Honolulu Rail
Honolulu Rail

KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The weather didn't exactly cooperate as it rained for most of the outdoor news conference, but it didn't dampen spirits as Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) showed off the first mile of the elevated guideway.

"Welcome to the guideway," announced Dan Grabauskas, HART CEO, before leading a convoy of dignitaries and media for the first time up the 37 foot high concrete platform that will eventually hold the 20 miles of track. "The view into the distance is a little hazy today but for us the sun is always shining right here. It is a pretty exciting time."

Construction crews have been practicing a technique called thermite welding. It will make the transition between rail sections smoother and quieter.

"A lot of people think of the old fashioned trains where you hear the clickety clack, clickety clack kind of sound. The reason you don't hear that on this is the rail once its completed it's as if it's one stick of 20 mile long rail," said Grabauskas.

The train is powered by electricity so it should make less noise. We also saw the three foot sound barriers along the edge of the guideway that are supposed to direct sound up, instead of out.

There were also plenty of visible gaps between segments.

"It's pretty large but we can actually make final adjustments to the elevations to make it perfect. Then we set it in place and leave it there for a hundred years," said Grabauskas.

The rain also raised questions about runoff as water poured down from all over to the ground below. We're told there will be more organized runoff when it's finished.

"What you see underneath the guideway, it hasn't been fully sealed and finalized yet but part of this design, our contractor did incorporate a drainage plan so as you see on some of the columns there are drainage downspouts," said Karley Halsted, HART Project Manager West Oahu/Farrington Highway Guideway.

"It's like when you see the haze beyond our view, that's kind of like where we are right now. We can't see that far into the future, but on a good day when the sun comes up we can really see the end. So this rail system once completed will provide us a vision going forward of where we want to be," said State Senator Clarence Nishihara, (D) who was recently named the Senate Transportation Committee Chair.

The first rail cars will be tested up on the tracks here in mid 2016. The first ten miles is scheduled to be open to the public in 2018.

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