Rail board given options on how much rail can be built for $6.8B

Published: Jun. 8, 2016 at 10:55 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 9, 2016 at 12:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation said the city's proposed rail route will likely be shorter or have fewer stations with the revenue it expects to have.

HART presented the options to the rail board, which met Wednesday for the first time since the Honolulu City Council voted to cap spending on the over-budget project last week.

According to HART projections, the rail line would end at Kapalama near Honolulu Community with the money it expects to have -- $6.8 billion. HART estimates it will cost more than $7.9 billion to build all 20 miles of rail with 21 rail stations.

HART's one option is to build the rail line only to the Middle Street Transit Center, and then continue the guideway to Ala Moana Center without any of the planned stations along the way. Or bus service could be added, or an at-grade light-rail system could be built.

"That does not include any of the additional costs that bus or other types of changes that would have, so there would be additional costs to the $6.22 billion for the Middle Street termination," HART deputy executive director Brennan Morioka told the board.

Stopping at Middle Street was also criticized because it would force riders off rail to another option.

"I don't know why you don't just skip the airport because if you go to the airport to pick up the tourists, they're going to have to get off at Middle Street to get on a bus to go to Waikiki," said Barbra Armentrout. "Now that doesn't make sense at all."

"To me, downtown is the minimum. You gotta get downtown," said city Transportation Services Director Mike Formby. "But I don't see how you do it looking at these numbers."

Another option given to the board includes building as far as the funding allows, but with what were called a la carte options, such as dropping some rail stations.

"Obviously it providers decision makers with the maximum flexibility in the use of current funding because it provides you with the ability to make a number of different choices based on a myriad of scenarios," said Morioka.

"It was sad sitting through a presentation just now called 'let's keep building until we run out of money,'" said rail opponent Eric Ryan. "As a taxpayer, that's just disgusting."

Other options presented include private-public partnerships to build the rail stations, or to move the rail route from Dillingham Boulevard to Nimitz Highway. Morioka said the Nimitz option would likely delay completion of the rail project for another seven to ten years.

In a statement issued after the meeting City Council Chair Ernie Martin said, "These financial statements from HART continue to amaze, confuse and disappoint the tax payers. The only thing we know for sure, is we do not have the money to build this project as planned. We need to get real and get working on a solution."

The rail board's next step is to put together a working group to study the options. It has 60 days to choose an option to present to federal transportation officials.

HART proposes rail options

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