Honolulu rail officials tested a rail car on the partly-built elevated guideway for the first time today.
They took it for a 3-mile ride, towing it between the Waipahu Transit Center and the West Loch Station. The goal was to make sure there’s enough clearance along the rail line for the train and there are no obstacles in its path.
“For engineers, this is a great day,” said Krishniah Murthy, interim executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. “This is like a child’s toys at Christmas time.”
As the train inched slowly toward the station, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell stood on the elevated guideway to watch along with rail officials and other politicians.
“We’re standing in what is the future of this island,” Caldwell said, touting the easy commute when the rail line is completed.
“Life is going to be very different in very positive ways,” Caldwell said. “We just need to get through the conflict and the problems that we have today.”
About half of the railway, or 10 miles, has been built so far. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit project has spent about $2.6 billion total, including more than $700 million in federal dollars. But the rail project faces a funding shortfall estimated at $1.5 billion to $3 billion.
Caldwell had asked state lawmakers to allow the city of Honolulu to extend the general excise tax surcharge to help pay for the rail project, but the Legislature adjourned without reaching agreement on a funding solution. Lawmakers could call a special session to decide a funding plan, but Caldwell said at this point there’s no indication that lawmakers have made progress getting closer to an agreement.
Even so, he remained hopeful that a funding solution would be found.
“The train is on the track, and it’s moving,” Caldwell said. “And this project is moving forward.”