Local rail officials released today their highly anticipated “recovery plan.” The 249-page report, which was due Sunday, leaves the main question of how to pay for the island’s cash-strapped transit project unresolved, but it looks to assure federal officials that the latest cost estimates and management are sound.
The report calls the original plan to build 20 miles of elevated concrete pathway, 21 stations, and a transit center at Pearl Highlands, the only “viable Project alternative from a financial, ridership, and operationally practical perspective.”
It further pans the so-called “Plan B,” a less-expensive proposal to end the line near Aloha Tower and eliminate seven stations along the route. Such changes, the report states, would cut rail ridership by about 60 percent. That alternative plan would also face delays to assemble new environmental studies and deal with litigation, it added.
This latest report generally holds consistent with the conclusions that the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation reached in its “Interim Plan,” which was released last fall and also pledged support for Plan A — building the full 20 miles to Ala Moana Center.
It comes after state House and Senate negotiators agreed to a tentative deal last week to help pay for rail’s approximately $3 billion shortfall by increasing the state hotel room tax to 12 percent. It also follows renewed debate over the best way forward for rail, with some advocating to stop the line at Middle Street, others pushing to bring rail to ground level for the last four miles into town — and others calling on the island’s leaders to scrap the project altogether.