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Inouye aids rail one last time


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Wednesday’s formal signing ceremony was a momentous occasion for Hono-lulu, with the long-awaited federal full-funding grant — $1.55 billion toward the $5.26 billion cost of the elevated rail project — winning final approval.

It would have been a momentous day, too, for U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, whose death two days earlier added poignancy to the event.

Inouye, the Senate appropriations chairman, was the project’s most influential champion in Washington, D.C., at a fiscally strained time when such capital investments really need a champion.

The late senator, who was to lie in state today in the U.S. Capitol, was represented at the ceremony on The Hill by his widow and a lei-draped chair.

This is far from the last hurdle the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation will have to surmount.

But for the supporters of the project, which has the potential to equip Honolulu with the robust transportation network it badly needs, this was a day for celebration.

About those hurdles: The one in clearest view is set in federal court. Last week Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case that opponents hope will effectively halt the project.

The plaintiffs group — which includes former Gov. Ben Cayetano, longtime rail opponent Cliff Slater and Hawaii’s Thousand Friends — had sought an injunction earlier, arguing that the project violated federal laws aimed at protecting parks and historic sites.

But Tashima’s initial ruling Nov. 1 was more measured, ordering the city to supplement its study of possible historic-site protections and setting last week’s hearing. At issue is whether that order means delaying work on the whole project or, as the city prefers, only the downtown phase where the most sensitive historic sites, principally traditional Hawaiian burials, are located.

It seems almost certain that getting the federal grant approved in advance of Tashima’s decision was a strategic move, a signal to the judge of congressional and top-level administrative support for the project. And, if that’s so, getting the project past what may be the point of no return would be Inouye’s final push for rail, which he had avidly backed.

In August the senator, then 87, toured the West Oahu construction site, where columns and foundations for the first elevated section had been under construction since April, and acknowledged that he had been working on behalf of rail for most of his political life. The fact that it has taken this many decades — city officials had backed away from the project twice previously — underscores the misgivings that many Honolulu residents still have about it. For that reason, many have doubted that the project, despite the considerable resources behind it, would ever reach this point.

Though now it has arrived at this key juncture, the project still needs buy-in from Oahu residents. The various legal challenges halting work have compounded some of its costs, and the taxpayers should be watching even more carefully to see that public funds stay on target.

It now falls squarely on the rest of the project advocates — in City Hall as well as Capitol Hill — to step up and ensure that rail development hits the many marks that lie ahead.






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Wazdat wrote:
This will NOT be a good legacy for Mr Inouye. How SAD
on December 20,2012 | 05:55AM
wiliki wrote:
A great legacy and mostly for Hannemann....
on December 20,2012 | 10:22AM
Kuniarr wrote:
Traffic congestion was the problem and will continue to be the problem which could have long been relieved easily at far less than $1 billion and cost less to maintain a modern Traffic Management Center. what did we get? Rail. In this age of smart technology we have
Smart missiles that shoot down incoming ballistic missiles.
Smart bomb that hit a target within a few feet of dead center.
Smart phones.
Smart computers.
Yes, evenSmart highways
And Smart traffic signal system.

And what do we have for Honolulu, one of the cities with the worst congestion?

Not so smart Rail.
Not so smart traffic lights
Not so smart bureaucrats
Not so smart Department of Transportation Services.

on December 21,2012 | 09:43AM
Kalli wrote:
Each dollar of the $1.55 Billion has 40 cents in borrowed money. Is the Star Advertiser and the people of Honolulu so selfish as to borrow from our children and grand children to build a rail system that will not do anything to reduce traffic but line the pockets of the attorneys, consultants, engineers and political neer do wells?
on December 20,2012 | 06:41AM
Imagen wrote:
YES!
on December 20,2012 | 10:00AM
Anonymous wrote:
Kalli, Actually funding for transit comes out of the Mass Transit Account which has its own dedicated source of funding and does not receive any funds from the General Fund. Only money spent from the General fund is often borrowed.
on December 20,2012 | 11:00AM
frontman wrote:
$1.55 billion out of the $5.26 billion over runs, yes he really helped out Hawaii taxpayers.
on December 20,2012 | 06:47AM
palika wrote:
Thank you Sen. Inouye. You had the vision and foresight to press on with projects and programs that will keep Hawaii a modern, 21st Century city. Without major infastructure like rail, we would only be another sunny vacation beach destination like any other place on the globe, not a State that is poised to compete in the world market.
on December 20,2012 | 06:51AM
Wazdat wrote:
WOW, have you EVER traveled to other parts of the world. Better yet, have you EVER been to another island chain IN THE WORLD that has RAIL, steel on steel ??? Hawaii is going down the wrong path AGAIN
on December 20,2012 | 06:59AM
Kuniarr wrote:
Rail as an alternative to traffic congestion is not only a waste of billions to construct but also unnecessarily burdening taxpayers with additional taxes to pay for a 2nd mass transit system Honolulu does not and never needed.

For it was far best to relieve traffic congestion itself at billions less cost and millions less cost to maintain and operate.

In the 21st century traffic congestion relief is simple and not expensive to accomplish. How, by making the H1 smart and have our traffic signals placed under control by a smart traffic signal system. What we have here in Honolulu are not so smart mayor, councilors, governor, and bureaucrat engineer. We are in tje 21st Century, the age of smart, smart ipads, smart , smart traffic signal system, smart computers and many things that are smart.
on December 21,2012 | 05:53PM
Eagle156 wrote:
A sadday for Honolulu. Just wait and see.
on December 20,2012 | 07:25AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
So does the Crazy Train get named after him?
on December 20,2012 | 07:25AM
BigOpu wrote:
I don't know. Would you rather it be called the Mufi Moover? I dont agree on HART, but I would put my money on the fact that Dan's last days of influence had a lot to do with the Feds signing over the 1.5 billion. Good or bad, the man fought for what he thought best for us guys out in the middle of the big blue.
on December 20,2012 | 08:10AM
MKN wrote:
@Maneki_Neko: It should. It was his baby after all. For better or for worse. Only time will tell which outcome will come out of it.
on December 20,2012 | 08:20AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I voted to name it "The HART PHART" but others disagreed.
on December 20,2012 | 04:31PM
ponowai wrote:
I still don't understand. Does getting $1.55b guarantee that the feds will also pay the rest of the $5.26b cost?
on December 20,2012 | 08:50AM
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