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Mayor, Council chairman say rail should end at Middle Street for now

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / MAY 2

    The first four-car train was moved onto the tracks at the rail ops center, next to Leeward Community College during a news conference and celebration last month.

In a seismic shift for rail, Honolulu’s top political leadership is endorsing the idea that the island’s elevated transit project should be built only to Middle Street until the city has the money to complete it all the way to Ala Moana Center.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell asked the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board to endorse such a proposal during the group’s meeting today.

“I wish we could go all the way to Ala Moana now. That’s for another day,” Caldwell told board members. “I think we need to focus for now on how we get to Middle Street.”

Caldwell’s comments today echo the sentiments that City Council Chairman Ernie Martin made in a letter sent Tuesday to Federal Transit Administration Regional Administrator Leslie Rogers.

“It is clear that the benefits of such a plan outweigh the drawbacks,” Martin wrote. “It does not preclude us from eventually completing the full 20 miles and 21 stations” when the city has the financial means to finish it. Martin told Rogers that he’ll urge the HART board to endorse ending at Middle Street.

Rail officials now believe rail will cost more than $8 billion to complete, even though local rail tax and federal revenues will only give the project about $6.8 billion, based on the most recent projections.

The FTA has given the city until Aug. 7 to come up with alternatives to finish the project on budget. Last week, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board weighed six options but its members expressed their dissatisfaction with those options. HART’s executive and deputy executive directors recommended trying to build the project as far as the downtown station, near Aloha Tower.

Caldwell administration members have previously expressed their interest in seeing the full 20-mile project completed to Ala Moana Center. Ending it 5 miles short at Middle Street, would diminish ridership and require a larger public subsidy to support rail operations, they said.

Caldwell urged the HART board to make a proposal today, to give the City Council enough time to hold a public hearing on the matter and so the city could send a report to the city by Aug. 7.

The City Council’s Transportation subcommittee is slated to discuss the rail project’s financial situation meeting later today.

Any alternative will have to be approved by the FTA in order for the city to retain its $1.55 billion in federal funding. The FTA says it will “reserve judgment” on federal financial assistance for the project until after it has received and evaluated the City Council and HART’s Recovery Plan.

Rail Letters from Ernie Martin

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    • By law the land must be offered back to the original owners of the property. Not sure on price, I thought the original owners could repurchase the property at the price the City paid, or commission and appraisal to see if the value went down. Before any of this happens the City Council would have to declare the property as surplus.

      • the project beyond middle street is not abandoned just temporarily stopped; the construction will resume as more funds become available. hence, the properties taken is valid and legal and there is not need to stop or resell the properties back to the original owners. the original route to ala moana from middle street will be the same.

        • Right, the rail will be completed to Ala Moana in 2068 when the city has enough money to complete the route.

        • Define “temporarily stopped.” As in it could easily be 15, 20, or more years before there is anymore rail work into town. If there is any.

          By that time the cost of construction will be even higher than now. People will have seen yearly increases in their property taxes and will not be looking to see anymore. Rail as we know it may be done in Hawaii.

          I’ve been saying Middle Street all along. Good to see this is the answer. Noticed how ukuleleblue and wiliki didn’t have the cojones to comment, they have been silenced.

      • The problem with these eminent domain takings is that the owners sometimes don’t have the money to buy it back. It encumbers future building on lots and all kinds of nasty problems. Property value is diminished also.
        When the project was proposed and estimates were being made, I knew it was going to be a lot more expensive that what was on paper. Legal challenges, changes to plans and routes all contributed to the cost going up.
        Contractors drool when projects like this is proposed. They do know how o “milk” the system.
        Now the benefits of this rail is greatly diminished. Do they really think it can be completed at a later date? Total shibai…

      • I am very impressed and surprised by this development. I thought for sure that the developers and unions had the mayor and other politicians in their pockets with all these BS projects along the rail route that are showing up. I’ll bet a lot or crooks are going to be disappointed with this development.

        • Don’t fall for this bait and switch. When was the last time Kirk said anything truthful regarding rail. They have every intention of going to UH Manoa,and spending 20 plus BILLION of Hawaii taxpayer money for a train to NOWHERE. This letter is only to placate the public so that Kirk can get re-elected. The unions already know what Kirk’s game plan is and are all on board with him

    • This is a tragedy. The intent was to improve traffic. Who will catch the rail only to have get off at middle street then jump on a bus? I feel like we received traded the cow for a handful of beans. There is not enough money to go just 5 more miles?

        • That can be done if we make an immediate switch to maglev. The longer we wait, and the farther steel wheels goes, the more it will cost. The numbers were briefed in Kapolei on 1 June. Mr. Honore, who wrote this story, was in attendance and did not mention maglev in his lead story the next day (on the two-lane Zipper Lane). One has to wonder if the Star-Advertiser’s editorial board, which just urged “staying the course” on rail, may have a say as to what appears in print.

        • Too late for maglev. Rail car contracts already in place, too costly to change.

          Not to mention if the Nei was to convert to maglev we could expect rail’s final cost to be closer to $12-15 billion.

    • More like election year posturing while hoping the voting public will forget what has previously transpired. Vote these career politicians out.

        • Sarge I hate to be the one to tell you this but this ain’t about Djou. There is no intent whatsoever of stopping this thing at Middle Street. That is merely the plan submitted to satisfy the fed requirement for such in order to get the fed funds flowing again. When those dry up, if you’re a property owner here you better keep your back to the wall. There is every intent to keep this thing going to UH Manoa, Ala Moana, and Kapolei at taxpayer expense. Mark my words. It’s just too much of a windfall for the crooked leaders we have.

      • Yes, the choo-choo cartel also believes Unicorns dance around our rainbows. With their logic, why not put the whole project on hold and wait till they have all the money to build the entire route?! 😉

    • Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahhahaha! Make A city Make A. What a complete and utter joke. Where’s ukus? Where’s Small Wili? Where’s Nonokuli Joker? All the King’s Horses and all the King’s men will never be able to put rail together again. Thank you Moofi thank you Cadwell for blowing billions and billions of our dollars on a train to nowhere that no one will ride. Rail. You wanted it. You got it. Suckas.

      • I am against rail and I think we should cut our losses and tear it down. Originally I was somewhat for rail when it was supposed go to UH Manoa. Then I found out they were building it from Ewa towards town and I did not support it at all.

        That said, if we’re not going to build it to downtown, then tear it down now. I don’t really see the point of a multi billion dollar boondoggle going from Ewa to Middle street. What will that accomplish? It will make a lot of people’s commutes longer.

        • Oxford University published a report that shows the typical scam governments run to get a big rail up and running. Step 1, Low ball the budget, 2, Start in ag land, 3) reveal the true cost. Think I’m joking? Google it. Also, take a look of what is going on with the California High Speed Rail. Its a carbon copy of HART.

      • I wonder if cladwell with his well-funded campaign did a personal survey and found that Djou would get 50% plus one in the primary. So, would explain this dramatic, but superficial gesture by cladwell. Remember, this is only an interim measure, one that will last only until cladwell the naked emperor gets reelected. Wonder if John White of PRP initiated this shibai action?

  • This concrete monster has been a nightmare so I even forgot what the original price to build this monster. Taxpayer here we go again. Caldwell is like Abrecrombie last term in office.

      • The homeless will ride it. Since there will not be any real ridership, no one else will bother the bums so they will get a chance to defecate all they want without offending anyone or dealing with street sweeps.

        • They will poke their butts out at each stop and salute ascending passengers. Good point. I’ve seen their little “packages” on the entrance landing of the Children’s Learning Center. Actually the ones I saw were pretty big, and they would smear swear words on the glass using their stuff.

      • No – lots of people work downtown and in the Kakaako area. Many won’t ride the rail if they need to make another transfer. Every transfer wastes a lot of time and could be a real hassle.

        • No matter where rail ends, a lot of riders will still have to catch the bus. If I go to UH, I’ll have to catch a bus from end of rail line. If I work in Waikiki, same thing. So there will be some inconvenience regardless of where rail ends. Catching the 91 express bus, I still had to transfer to another bus to get to my job near Ala Moana. The thing is, we simply cannot afford this project as planned and we shouldn’t bankrupt our city and county by trying to do so. Unfortunately, I feel like we have been misled by our elected leaders in collusion with unions, wealthy property owners and developers who had visions of dollars filling their pockets. It wasn’t “bad luck”. It was greed, poor planning, poor management and haste to award contracts too early, that have created this failure of epic proportions. Heads should roll over this, but in typical fashion, as has been demonstrated before, I fear that our fearless leaders will cast their blame on the other guy and end up re-elected via name recognition or ethnic background because Hawaii voters are so apathetic. Okay, done with rant.

    • Retirees were going to ride rail from the Kroc Center to Ala Moana McDonalds. There is no McDonalds at Middle Street. The rail does not even start in Kapolei Second City.

  • I was never in support of the rail, did not think our market was big enough for the cost but they went with it any way because a majority of the Island voted yes for it. So if your going to build it then build it, this starting and stopping in the middle of no where will only ensure its utter failure.

  • Political maneuvering. With all the problems construction will cause just in the Dillingham are, Caldwell has no chance of winning the election. This is all just damage control for his campaign.

        • Got that from Ben himself. He later made it official with a letter of endorsement. In my case, we were talking about the fact that the toy choo choo was heading for the endless paradise of unending spend-spend. With a twinkle in his eye, Ben said, You can vote for Djou.” I looked him in the eye and said, “Vote for whom?” “Djou.”

          And so, I am going to cast my vote for a Repub in a non-partisan race. Djou may have just found his calling. A fiscal conservative who will view the toy choo-choo and grabby with a jaundiced eye.

        • Djou was joined yesterday by Gov. Cayetano, Judge Walter Heen and Councilmember Anne Kobayashi for a massive press conference where all three Democrats voiced their support for Djou in the mayor’s race. All three new networks, plus Star Advertiser and Civil Beat, were on hand to cover the event.

          Then Kirk’s people called the station managers and ordered them to squash the story, and not a peep was made on the evening news.

          The only person with the guts to even post the story was Chad Blair at Civil Beat. All the more reason why I canceled my subscription to SA and donate to CB now.

        • Re Electing Caldwell will be a confirmation that the Rail need to be completed. The silent majority will see to it.

      • “HART hasn’t yet issued the two big contracts to complete rail’s final 10 miles”.

        Further, the rail segment between Aloha Stadium and Middle Street requires high cost land and building acquisitions that will exceed the $6.8 Billion available…………..

        The first 10 miles ends at Aloha Stadium. The rail, if kept, should end at Aloha Stadium where there are enough open parking spaces for a major Bus transit center and for many passenger cars (for commuter transfers to/from the buses/rail) during the week day when the stadium parking are unused.

        The practical and best option is to convert the rail guide way to a reversible 2-lane HOV(2) Reversible freeway from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium for less than $4 Billion already collected via GET.

        The reversible can carry up to 17,000 commuters per hour (200 express buses and 3800 vehicles per hour) versus 3,000 RAIL commuters per hour. The guide way can carry most vehicles except heavy construction vehicles such as concrete batch trucks and 18 wheeler trucks. Freeway on/off ramps can be constructed at about 5 mile intervals (Kapolei, Farrington/Ft. Weaver, H-1/H-2, Aloha Stadium). This Reversible HOV(2) freeway option deletes rail functions such as rail stations, rail cars, utilities relocation, land/building acquisitions, rail security, rail power plant, rail O&M (100 million per year), etc.

        New buses are 80% funded by the Feds and would cost the city about $200,000 per bus or $40 million for 200 new buses. HART plans to purchase 80 rail cars at $1.2 million each for $96 million (Oahu Taxpayer funded).

        • 200 buses every hour – that is over 3 buses a minute. Not including the return trip. If it is only a 1 hour round trip that is 200 buses. 1.5 hour round trip -300 buses and a 2 hour round trip -400 buses. 200 buses -200 drivers @ $80/ hr including fringe benefits is $16,000/hr just for the drivers not including fuel. Compare that to the operating cost of a driverless train.

          Not to mention a bus every 18 seconds entering the city at peak congestion.

        • Well the stadium area will be like the USC vs.UH traffic nightmare except this will be everyday. Where do all these buses go? Salt Lake Blvd? Kam Hwy? Where?

    • “”it should have ended at the UH campus.””

      No, it should have started at UH Manoa and built outwards. If we ran out of money at the stadium, the rail would still be a viable mode of transportation.

      People could drive and park at the stadium, and ride the rail to downtown or UH. Going from Ewa to Middle street is a colossal failure.

    • Maybe we should stop it at the Stadium. Doesn’t make sense to go to the Airport if you are going to stop it at Middle Street. No one going to Waikiki will catch it. If you are really serious I think you save more money and stop it sooner.

      • More people will go to the airport area then the stadium. Stop at Middle St. But continue on North South road then 5 miles on Kapolei Parkway onto KoOlina. Resort area,Wet and Wild waterpark. Plus the city owns the Parkway and the business and people will welcome it.

    • That is where it was planned to end when Mufi resurrected the rail project from the mass rail graveyard and when the cost was projected to be a mere $3.7 billion.

  • Unbelievable. The residents voted on a rail project that would end at Ala Moana and now we’re told they’re going to stop it at Middle Street? What is the sense in that course of action? WHO is going to ride the rail when they can’t even get all the way into town? If the project is shortened now, we all know they’ll never garner enough support in the future to add the remainder of the track. What a waste!

    • There was no vote. And no matter how many time pro-railers tries to promote this idea, there was never a vote to build the rail yes or no. Establishing that fact, I really don’t know where you even came up with the ‘residents voted on a rail project that would end at Ala Moana’ line. Now THAT is a new one.

      • The controversy over the rail line was the dominant issue for local politics leading into the 2008 Honolulu elections, and culminated in a city charter amendment which left the final decision to the citizens of Oahu. The amendment passed with 53% of voters in favor, and ground broke on project construction on February 22, 2011.

        The first phase of the project, linking East Kapolei and Aloha Stadium, is scheduled to open in 2018, and the second phase of the project continuing the line to Ala Moana Center in urban Honolulu is slated to open in 2019.

        The project, as planned, will construct an elevated rapid transit line from the eastern edge of Kapolei, near the University of Hawaii-West Oahu campus, to Ala Moana Center (East of Honolulu dowtown).

        As of October 2014, the line is scheduled to open in two phases in 2018 and 2019:
        2018: East Kapolei – Aloha Stadium
        2019: Aloha Stadium – Ala Moana Center

        • And you still failed to address your original statement. Did the amendment that passed was to build the rail yes or no? What was the exact wording of that amendment? And none of this politician’s double talk that ultimately proves nothing.

      • Agree. All the ballot read was asking the voters what type of rail they wanted. The ballot question did not ask the 64K question whether it was wanted or not. Go Rail Go. On time and on budget.

      • nope most residents were for rail. the gullible sheep that they are fell for all the crooked advertising and voted rail through. it took months, years later for the majority of them to realize that rail is a scam. oops too late now. the real problem is that the majority of voters are a bunch of clueless mοrοns who end up sabotaging everything in this state. please don’t vote mοrοns! you’re messing everything up!

    • Hey No-Aloha5166: The residents did not vote that the rail would end at Ala Moana. That was the big shibai between politicians, developers and big business. Most of the residents donʻt even want this thing anymore. I would venture to put that on a ballot for the voters, however it was originally told that it would end at UH Manoa. Do your homework and stop spreading Uku-doo-doo.

  • So typical of Hawaii politicians to do something so half-assed. Someone should be canned (voted out of office) for this travesty. Who is going to ride it to Middle Street ? A waste indeed.

  • Guess we don’t have brains in office. What idiots. If they stop it at Middle St then they should have stopped the project a long time ago. No sense. I would not ride to Middle St then sit and wait for a bus to take me to Ala Moana.

  • Hanabusa: “Yes. (wink, wink) We’ll lie and say we’re stopping at Middle Street. (wink, wink.)”
    Caldwell: “Yes. So the fed funds spigot will be turned back on. (wink, wink).”
    Grabauskas: “Yes. And then when that dries up, we’ll crucify Hawaii property owners to get the funds to extend I to Ala Moana, UH Manoa, and Kapolei! (wink, wink). Money everywhere! (wink, wink).”

    • ukuleleblue: No need worry, get plenty money flowing from tourists and people hardly feel the perpetual GE Tax and the 50% property tax increase.

      wiliki: The rail is already paid for, why are we having this debate? Without rail, my children and grandchildren have no future.

  • Bunch of dumazzes leading Hawaii, headed by Klutz Caldwell. So how many commuters are gonna ride the rail now? The densest population of rail riders would have been headed to Downtown Honolulu. Doesn’t make sense to ride the rail, then have to transfer to another bus into Downtown. Better to just catch the Express bus straight into downtown — will get them there faster than the rail.

  • Well, if HART follows the Caldwell/Martin plan this will be the no-riders train.
    Who’s going to park-and-wide from Ewa, then bus-and-walk from Middle Street?
    The train will become an unused, expensive toy.

      • The rail would have brought workers close enough to downtown and kakaako workplaces to quickly walk to there without having to make another transfer to a bus. Buses, by the way, don’t stop anywhere riders want – only at bus stops.

        I ride the bus and so I know. Do you?

        • I do not ride the bus but I do know the rail route and most downtown workers are blocks away from the rail station. What is “close enough?”

  • Who was the babooze who decided to built from Ewa to town? The rail should have gone from UH Manoa or downtown towards Ewa.

    Now all we have is a useless piece of concrete and steel.

  • plan the best, most efficient, cost effective way of doing a project. And what you end up with in Hawaii is the complete opposite. If there is way to fudge brownie up a project, our government will do it. I think they should make the 0.5% GET permanent and finish the project now. If it doesn’t get completed now, it never will. The longer it gets put off, the more it will cost. Our government is going to waste our money no matter what. If they don’t waste it on rail, they will waste it on other projects. At least if they finish rail we will have something to show for our wasted money…….

      • The current GET extension is until 2027 and HART assured us that was sufficient to complete the rail to Ala Moana. And a few months later they are saying they are out of money and will have to end at Middle Street.

        Rail is a financial scam, almost like the Nigerian scam where they keep asking for money while promising you something in the future.

        • I just can’t get over how their projections were so far off? These are “experts” and “professionals” who are supposed to know their stuff. They couldn’t be that stupid, so I agree with you Keolu that this has been a money grab at the taxpayer’s expense. Oh what have they done to our aina?

        • Does that plant fit into Governor Ige’s green plan for energy? How much will a new power plant cost plus we still need to bury the electrical lines and OM cost. I think we should tear it down to save anymore money wasted in the money pit called rail.

  • What are the six options they were weighing and why were they unacceptable??? Awesome reporting, as always, Star Advertiser! I had heard a story on the news a few weeks ago, that a change to the rail cars could save enough money and actually allow us to take the line all the way to UH Manoa, but cannot seem to find it anywhere now.

  • I think Rail should be killed altogether, but stopping at Middle Street is fine. I am concerned about the words “for now” which some Star-Advertiser headline editor just gratuitously threw in. It means they will stop briefly until the milk more money out of taxpayers. When are they going to STOP THE ½% extra excise tax??? They probably aren’t. More importantly, I think the Feds are screwing the City by paying a very, very low percentage of the cost, much lower than what they are paying the vast majority of other Cities. Unfortunately, we asked to be screwed and bent over and the Feds accommodated our request. Originally, the Feds paid 80% or more of the costs, but those days are mostly gone. Terrible policy by Feds not to support mass transportation, instead of roads, etc.

  • Unbelievable. I was for rain from the start…but its startling to me how the leadership on this Island cannot get anything, and I mean anything, done properly. They must all have a collective I.Q. of about 4 This is scary when you think about…all these billion of dollars and it doesn’t solve one damn problem insofar as our traffic is concerned. Oh, hello? A train from Ewa to Middle street may as well just go no where or anywhere. Professional politicians….good grief.

    • That was the scam that moofi pulled on everyone. Rail was never proposed as a solution to traffic problems. It was called another “option”.

      You know, another option we never looked at was helicopter service for west side riders or a zipline from Waianae to downtown.

      • That’s a good one! I wonder how tall the tower in Waianae would have to be to zip all the way into town? Would certainly be a one-of-a-kind ride!!

  • Think about this. When we finally have the monies to finish the project to Ala Moana, do you think the cost of materials and labor will be what they are now? Guess again!

  • This does not change anything for me. I will still be voting for Charles Djou and I hope everyone else does.
    Caldwell and his crew need to be shown the door. I would actually like to see the rail stopped at the stadium rather than on Middle Street as the Stadium location has the
    land for parking as well as for the transfer bus service that will need to be provided.
    There also needs to be a rethink on the number of rail stations. They need to be reduced. Having one every mile or so is way too many and just make the train ride in from
    Ewa/Kapolei too long in terms of travel time and of course cost wise as the stations are all elevated and require stairs
    and or escalators as well as elevators for the disabled/wheel chair riders. Putting in elevators at each station is a huge cost factor but would be necessary.
    The other issue to me is that no matter what Caldwell or Martin say now, I do not think they can be trusted nor are competent to do this project properly.
    Also how about getting rid of Grabauskas and his crew who have been spending money on their lavish offices like a drinking sailor and their general incompetence.

  • Way to go Charles Djou! Slippery Caldwell has noticed the local groundswell of support for you and is running scared. Folks, don’t fall for this latest shabai by Caldwell who’ll do anything to hang onto power. Vote for the honest guy. Not Caldwell, not Carlisle but Charles Djou.

  • Djou entering the race has put a big scare into Caldwell. He hopes ending the rail at Middle St. will negate the support for Djou. I don’t think we can trust Caldwell; he will say anything to get re-elected. Already spending big bucks on tv commercials.

  • My prediction is that it will still cost close to $10 mil even if it stops at Middle Street. Then when “there is more money,” it will cost another $10 mil or so to go the rest of the way. By then I should be dead, but my poor children, grandchildren and beyond will be shelling out money forever for the people who live way out West.

    • “the people who live way out West” won’t be riding the train because they can get to work much faster on one express bus ride.

      I agree with you that the cost will go up further even if the train stops at Middle street. And, they will start raising taxes to pay for the O&M since ridership will fall short.

  • Tell me why I would ride a bus to a rail station, ride the rail, then transfer to another bus to get to work downtown? I prefer to just ride an express bus to work without wasting more time waiting for transfers.

    • Eliminate the word “downtown” and this would apply to anyone working in Waikiki, Kaimuki, Nuuanu, or attending UH etc… Wasn’t the elimination or reduction of express buses part of the rail plan?

    • The express buses you now talk about will be gone once the abbreviated Rail starts. They will do everything to boost Rail ridership and the express buses from the west side will be toast.

  • This is idiotic. There is nothing at Middle St. and the traffic from there to town is the worst. So riders transferring to a bus there would find their bus stuck in traffic.

    If you are going to cut the route short then it should go to Downtown at least.

    This also eliminates using the rail to get to the airport or stadium from town. The only riders will be the airport employees who live on the West Side.

  • For my own curiosity, to everyone who claims that they can turn the existing rail guide way into a reversible HOV lane, have you run the structural engineering numbers for the current design to see if it could support the load of vehicle traffic? Trains may be heavy but there load is isolated into relatively small expanses of the guide way at any given time. Vehicles using the guide way may place a load across the entire length and in case of any traffic stoppage, the load could be static for a while. I for one haven’t looked at the design numbers but would be glad to hear from someone who has taken the time.

  • The success of rapid transit options in California is the presence of park and ride facilities where commuters can get there by car, park and able to drive back home. These Mainland facilities make it convenient for commuters and invent ridership. Here, the poor planning has only limited park and ride stations. Riders will have to walk, take a bus or have someone drop them off to take the “fail rail”. Not very attractive options to incent use. Now they are going to stop the fail rail at Middle Street. This further cuts the potential pool of those who will actually consider taking this mode of transportation. IT IS NOT GOING TO WORK WITH REGARD TO COST/BENEFIT considerations. The cost per actual rider will be astronomical and the impact to reduce traffic from the West will be negligible. This will be the “White Elephant” created by Muff Haneman and Clutz Cadwell!

    The mayor is going to follow the steps of Abercrumbie, being a one term politician. Cadwell is so wishy washy, changing his stripes to save his political life. His handling of the rail is one of the poorest examples of political leadership we have seen locally. Councilman Barney Martian is no better, grandstanding & treating rail like a political hot potatoe, at least he had the sense to know that not many would support his political aspirations for Mayor

  • Wait till after the election is pau and the people forget, re-elect him and praise him for wonderful insight then he will show his fangs once more. Voters of Hawaii have short memories.

  • So… Twice as much and and they only built it half as far before the money all disappeared?

    There are some happy construction insiders and ecstatic contributors to Mayor Caldwell’s campaign doing their happy dance this after.

    Did Mayor Caldwell actually appear in public or did he just yell out from the lava tube he’s been hiding in?

  • First, I am for Rail. It is feasible and needed. Stopping at Middle St. is a waste of money. If we are going to stop and restart, stop at the Airport, someplace useful.

    As far as restarting when we have the money means waiting for the next recession when construction is slow and the bids will be lower. This is a dream not occurring in my lifetime. When the slump occurs,and it Will, tax receipts will drop and there will be no extra money to restart Rail. Also, waiting for a future restart will be like waiting for saving money to buy a home until you can afford one. Prices will always rise faster than you can save to buy. The City, State, and Feds will al

    • So Mililani residents can catch a bus to the rail station, catch the rail to middle street. Then catch another bus to your destination, which is likely to make your commute an hour longer than an express bus. And your taxes, including property taxes will be increase so you can have a longer commute.

      Are you sure you still support rail?

      • YES!!! IF IT RAN FROM WEST KAPOLEI TO ALA MOANA AND TO UH. OTHERWISE, CUT UH BUDGET BY ONE-THIRD AND SPEND THE MONEY ENLARGING UH WEST OAHU. THEN TOWN KIDS CAN ENJOY USING RAIL FROM MIDDLE STREET TO KAPOLEI.

        A FEASIBLE FUNDING FOR RAIL IS TO DOUBLE THE PROPERTY TAX RATE ON RESIDENTIAL HOUSES OVER $1 MILLION ASSESSED VALUE TO PAY FOR RAIL. IT WOULDN’T BOTHER ME. BUT I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR THE HOWLS FROM EAST HONOLULU AND IN KAILUA. THE RICH YUPPIES CAN PAY THEIR “FAIR SHARE” AS OBAMA LIKES TO ESPOUSE.

    • Feasible? Get real!! The whole project is a waste of money (if you paying). It doesn’t relieve traffic as it was proposed so how can you say it is needed? The money would have been better spent double decking the freeway or using bus rapid transit. Rail was always a fail!!

  • Have lost all respect for Mayor Caldwell for kowtowing to the rail opponents, in a likely futile bid for reelection. With this act he has sealed his fate, no possible reelection. Stopping at middle street is clearly stupid.

  • Don’t forget we still need to pay the Operations & Maintenance cost and this thing will cost $15 Billion just to get to middle street. And with fewer riders to cover the O&M, guess what will happen with you taxes? That’s right folks, go way up, like doubling or more your property tax bill. And the worst part, all that money spent and it will still take 90 minutes or more to drive west side to town.

    • And forgot to mention, in 20 years the elevated section will need a complete rebuild due to rusted post tension cables- got $10 Billion in todays dollars to repair that? No, how about a tax increase then?

  • So what, supposedly lower ridership and by how much. We save hopefully $1.2 billion right off the bat plus lower operation and maintenance costs. As for ridership, where is a credible source of lower ridership? Can’t trust city and hart for any numbers.

    “cannot let this project fail” Too late it’s already a failure under the mayor’s leadership. Mayor must be running scared if he caved in to stopping the rail at middle street.

    Notice there is no mention of reaching UH. As we all know that was a bait and switch from the very start.

  • My take, my turn: the vast majority of the people of Honolulu did not endorse the rail project, a lot of people on the west side wanted it because it would benefit them. I see both sides of the issue, but at hand is the fact that the city doesn’t have enough money, ending the rail at Middle Street makes sense, that I agree on. We can always do the rail as time progresses so that our city can go back to being more budget friendly, so that we have enough money to fix our roads, parks and more, can give raises to the people that run our city who deserve them so much, especially Honolulu Police Department.

    I’m looking at Ernie Martin’s signature, this is another guy that absolutely SHOULD not be in the Mayor’s seat, he cannot be trusted. Djou is iffy, he can’t work with the President if Trump is elected, the city will suffer, the only alternative is to keep Mayor Caldwell in office or in the alternative, elect Peter Carlise to do the job!!

  • Another so called Republican has ratted for political favors. I have voted for Djou before, but never again. He marries the rail opponents Cayetano and Walter Heen for political gain. What a POLITICAL PIG. What about support from Panos and Shapiro and Cliff Slater, the Black Coral Rapist.

    I guess I have to vote for Carlisle for Mayor. Caldwell has shown that he doesn’t have the guts to stay the project to the end. He is showing that he is like Jeremy Harris, the PR Mayor, who never appeared when things got tough.

    • MililaniGal: From a Mililani guy, you have got to have some special interest in this debacle, cause I live Mililani and from my demographics this thing has been the cause of more angst than anything else. Has been the cause for more traffic than itʻs benefits (Very little to a very few).

  • It may and I mean may come a time that the middle street proposal will work way beyond expectation and the buses will move people faster to more destination at a much lower cost then building it in its entirety. Who knows?

    • Yes, who knows? Maybe tomorrow money will start to grow on trees! After all, who knows? Maybe, cats and dogs will forge a peace agreement and live in relative peace and harmony for all eternity! After all, who knows? Maybe, the rail companies will all suddenly agree to build the entire system free of charge! Who knows?

  • What’s that about a billion per mile? Makes great sense. Wait for the bus out West to take to the train. Wait for the train at the station and and then get dropped off on Middle Street. Wait for bus to take you to work downtown or Waikiki.

  • Every single knowledgable rail consultant said they should START in town then build out, so if they ran out of money at least the rail built would be useful for people. If they had started by building from Waikiki to downtown to the airport they would have generated a lot of ridership upfront and generated enough revenue to make the project look viable. Now it goes from nowhere to nowhere and they have no money. Nobody will use it because why would they. Unbelievable – someone should go to jail.

  • This is a nightmare of the city’s own making, and EVERYONE is responsible. Why does anyone believe that federal officials will go along with providing more funds when the city will be in clear violation of the FFGA, which specifically refers to a 20-mile system? If I were a federal transit official, I would immediately “close the checkbook” and tell the mayor that not only will the FTA not pay the $500 million currently being withheld but it will also demand that the FTA funds already provided be repaid for use on a municipal transit project that has “its act together.” I have been advocating for conversion to urban maglev for years and nobody listened. This could have been done right but I feel no satisfaction in saying “I told you so” and am instead furious at the city administration, HART, and the members of the City Council who refused to even ask questions following my many testimonies. Every rail official and office-holder should immediately tender their resignations and the project should be placed on hold while we reopen the period for filing until 15 July and have a special election in August for not only mayor but for every single seat on the council.

    • Frank there is ONLY one solution. END RAIL NOW, and leave the existing unfinished columns and tracks where they are and Oahu residents take the $1-2 BILLION dollar loss. You are correct MagLev or sem-Maglev is the only solution that will allow the track to be much narrower (you have previously stated 10 feet but I have not verified this), lighter and probably more reliable with much less moving parts in Hawaii’s year round humid and corrosive salt air environment where the car and rail bogie should be made of materials like Carbon composite, aluminum, lightweight steel and other lightweight but strong materials that are much more resistant to our weather then heavy iron steel on steel train weighing in at 72,000 pounds per car empty. Not only has the technology have to be changed but also all of the stops every mile have to be eliminated and have go from Ewa Beach and Kapolei to UH Manoa and Waikiki. HOWEVER that will NEVER happen with Kirk, the current contractors of each rail station, Grabby, HART, etc. because they have to much invested in their current train to nowhere. Therefor the ONLY solution is to just completely stop the Oahu rail project and take the loss.

  • The crook is just trying to get reelected. If that happens, he’ll be right back in the developers’ pockets, and pushing for the rail to go to Ala Moana again.

  • Our city, state and federal government is being led down the path of defeat. Money and abuse of power taking its toll on our great country, which is being played by the powerful money mongrels, who is orchestrating a one world government. Like every empire before America, its collapse is imminent. Next up China. After that one world government. Will it be better or worse for the human race when that happens?

  • There is nothing more dangerous, in politics and otherwise, than a DESPERATE individual with his/her back against the wall…and that, right now, is Kirk Caldwell.

    Kirk and his entire administration need to go. The sooner they know they’ve been voted out, the sooner this nonsensical political posturing, flip-flopping and Hail Mary passes will stop. What does that mean?

    VOTE IN THE PRIMARY, FOLKS.

    If Djou gets 50% plus one vote in August, the mayor’s race is over and Kirk & Co will roll over and start packing up.

    VOTE IN THE AUGUST PRIMARY. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP.

    • Exactly. Wake up voters. How many times do you have to be taken to the cleaners. How much wasted dollars does it take to convince you that rail is a train wreck in the making. Stopping it at Middle will probably be your best and last chance. Land already required is small change compared what we will be faced with for generations to come. Do what makes sense. Unbelievable.

  • That would make rail exactly what everyone said it was…A waste of our money. Who is going to take the rail to Middle St. then have to take a bus the rest of the way? Totally stupid!

  • Not picking sides – but there is *no* Phase Two in government. I would bet my last dollar the rail will never go any further if it stops at Middle STreet. The political will will never be there to open that issue again.
    The tens-of thousands of West side workers who need to get to Waikiki may or may not use the “stub”.

  • If Caldwell and Martin had been in charge when the H-3 had cost overruns their “solution” would have been to stop the project at the tunnels.

  • A rail line from Kapolei to Middle Street will incur 80% of the operating cost and earn 20% of the fare revenue (if that) projected for the originally approved line to Ala Moana, which was already forecast to operate at a loss. It will quickly prove cost-prohibitive to operate and the City will be forced to shut it down. Obviously no one at City Hall has even thought about that.

  • Forget Middle Street, end it right here right now. Leave the guideway and columns up as a monument to arrogance, p*ss poor planning and incompetence (heck, they could even carve the names of everyone: Mayor, City Council, HART member who was involved in this fiasco on the columns). If this project isn’t stopped immediately it won’t matter whether rail terminates at Aloha Stadium, Middle Street or some other destination as yet unannounced, we will all be on the hook for the endless costs of operation and maintenance.

  • Nobody in this dialog has addressed the issue of the rail systems. The city has a contract for more than $1 billion with Hitachi Italy for delivery of 20 four-car trains. With the alignment ending at Middle Street and poor ridership assured, does the city still plan to honor its contract so that we can have 80 almost empty rail cars running back and forth and making operations and maintenance costs exceedingly high on a passengers-per-mile basis? We can do this better, and even make Hitachi a partner in converting to maglev operations. Of course, that would require real leadership, currently nowhere visible in this rail fiasco

  • How dumb is this??? From Kapolei to Middle Street everyone is only getting ON to the train. Nothing in the middle to get off for. So more and more crowded until ready to explode. And when the doors pop open and EVERYONE gets off at Middle Street, then what? We’re now dropping off huge crowds into the densest part of Honolulu. MAJOR traffic issues. You’ll never have enough buses to carry these folks to their next destination if EVERYONE departs at the same station????

  • To do a Trumpism: Crooked Caldwell shouldn’t be leading us anywhere. His so called leadership brought us to the brink of lunacy and then took the leap deep into fictional planning. What a fraud. No more Crooked Caldwell. Anyone but that dope. Someone needs to start prosecution of him and Mufi.

  • One huge negative consequence of light rail, whether intended or unintended, especially in states such as Hawaii, is the impact it will have on affordable housing via higher rates of residential displacement and increase in housing values which will lead to an increase in homelessness. So if there’s any consolation, ending rail at Middle Street will lessen rail’s impact on housing prices and homelessness. When the city chooses to move forward, money spent on the rail will skyrocket and so will funds needed to combat a spike in homelessness. Can’t fathom how the city will ever be able to afford to fund both.

  • “localguy” said above that it is too late for maglev, and conversion would cost $12-15 billion. I will again state what was presented two weeks ago: The city can convert to maglev as well as extend the system WITHIN the existing budget (i.e., less than $7 billion). I am willing to make the case for maglev if allotted sufficient time (i.e., 15 minutes) at the suggested public meeting. I also suggest that “localguy” show up, identify himself, and explain why it cannot be done. One thing I can say for sure is that estimates made by the city and HART in the past have proven to be far from reality but no public official has disputed mine to date (as they probably wish I would just go away and stop reminding them of their poor decisions, planning, and management).

  • It would appear that some semblance of sanity has fallen upon the powers that be. Though I remain skeptical and suspicious about this latest turn of events.

  • Can we safely assume that someone did the math and realized that rail will likely cost 10 – 12 billion dollars and that it would:
    1. Bankrupt the Employee Retirement System (already 8 BILLION dollars in the red)

    2. Bankrupt the Employee Medical Fund (EUTF program that’s also 8 BILLION dollars in the red)

    3. Bankrupt the State of Hawaii

  • The public should demand that going forward, that there be transparency, accountability, and equally important, understand transit oriented development and how it will affect each and every citizen of this State.

  • Mayor Caldwell is a weak, 40-watt thinker. You don’t build half a car and expect to have an efficient and effective driving machine. And…his plan to complete the second part by when? 2050??? Oh, sometime in the future when funds become available. What a plan. After all, a 40-watt bulb at work.

  • Don’f fall for this BAIT AND SWITCH move. Kirk’s has no intention of shortening the rail line and he needs to make this BOGUS proposal so that he can get re-elected. The unions and developers are in on his ploy and will keep quiet hoping the public will re-elect Kirk

  • agree with k.pine, deferring the completion will adversely affect ridership and cost more in the long-run. instead, they should petition the state that the surcharge should be extended to complete the 20 mile route and 21 stations as planned. the city should tell the state that by extending the surcharge the city is not taking any money away from the state, in fact, they are getting 10% of the surcharge. further, all the antis clamor that the .5% surcharge is a big burden to residents, this is not true, nobody has filed for bankruptcy because of it. when business raise their prices for products and services, people may grumble but they will pay it. perhaps the mayor is doing this for political purposes because of djou, who favors cutting the route short to middle street. by doing this, there would be no rail issue between them, which will benefit the mayor. but the residents should turn their anger to lingle, cayetano and kalekini who delayed the project for over 3 year, which amounted over a billion dollars when considering all the cost involved, litigation, eis, delay cost from existing contractors, and rising costs of about 12% per year for future contracts. their delay was negligent and foolish. without this delay, the might be able to complete the project for about $7 billion. If the mayor is reelected in November, I am sure he will change his tune and push for completion of the project now and not continue to defer it. so we have to reelect the mayor, djou will cause the residents more money in the long-run by stopping at middle street. pay now or pay much more later, which is better. there are no other viable alternatives.

  • The candidate that provides realistic solutions for the public benefit and future of Hawaii, not just rail, will likely be elected.

    The most important thing for these candidates to remember is the people. Finger pointing will only lead to more frustration and anger.

    Let’s be honest about this. So, our government financial picture is clear, there is only so much money available. And because of politics, everyone fights for their share of those very limited monies. Most of what is spent is absolutely necessary for the welfare of the State, some of it is not.

    But, Government is a reflection of the people of this State. Like everyday working people, we can only handle so much debt, we struggling to make a living, we budget to support our families, and we hope we have enough money to pay the bills.

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