Wednesday, November 25, 2015         

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Cayetano leads anti-rail charge

Mayoral decisions and an environmental study come under fire

By Dan Nakaso


Former Gov. Ben Cayetano led several groups in blasting Honolulu's rail plans yesterday and then took swipes at Honolulu mayors past and present.

Cayetano, who had supported Mayor Peter Carlisle in the 2010 elections, said, "Transparency went out the window the moment he was sworn in. ... I'm very, very disappointed. I thought he would be a reasonable man. I was mistaken."

Cayetano also suggested that the city was not paying enough concern to the potential discovery of ancient Hawaiian burial grounds when it begins construction along the route.

"But that's the way the former mayor (Mufi Hannemann) ran the city," Cayetano said. "That's the way he ran his despicable (gubernatorial) campaign and that's the way he did business."

Hannemann could not immediately be reached for comment last night.

Cayetano called the environmental impact statement on the rail project flawed and said the project's cost is likely to escalate as bones and Hawaiian sites are unearthed, just like the cost overruns for H-3 freeway.

Because of the ongoing discoveries of burial grounds and other ancient Hawaiian activity along the H-3's path, Cayetano said, "What was supposed to cost $70 million ... ended up costing $1.1 billion and the route had to be changed."

The current $5.5 billion estimate for the rail project could end up at $7 billion, Cayetano said. And federal aid expected at $1.5 billion could actually end up being only $500 million, Cayetano said.

"Who's going to pay for that extra $1 billion?" he asked. "How's it going to be paid for?"

In a subsequent press conference, Carlisle said he and Cayetano are "good friends and we have disagreed about matters in the past."

Carlisle dismissed Cayetano's concerns over rail as "frankly, nothing new."

"He has been opposed to rail and has always been opposed to rail. Doesn't like where it starts, doesn't like how it's been thought through and he is a bus guy, start and finish," Carlisle said. "None of the statements that Gov. Cayetano made are things that we haven't heard in the past, already.

"Frankly, after evaluating all of the evidence that's available to us, after years and years of work ... it's time for us to get going with rail as we are required to do. And that's what we're going to do, plain and simple."


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