New Mayor Could Derail Honolulu Transit Project

Despite a ceremonial groudbreaking last year, a $5.2-billion elevated rail project four decades in the making is facing an uncertain future as the centerpiece of a fierce campaign battle.
November 2, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Already suffering from some of the worst congestion in the United States, a plan to build a 20-mile long elevated rail system from east Kapolei to central Honolulu that was supported by voters in recent elections will again be on the ballot next week. The plan is the centerpiece of a battle between former governor Ben Cayetano and former state House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell to become the next mayor of Honolulu, reports Kim Murphy. 

Cayetano, "entered the race with a robust lead in the polls, pledging to save the city from 'a wall of concrete snaking along its waterfront,'" says Murphy. Instead, he proposes, "a $1.5-billion plan calling for bigger buses, dedicated transit lanes, underpasses and a two-mile elevated freeway connecting to an existing flyover near the airport."

Caldwell, on the other hand, "said the city would be foolish to squander the years of political haggling and millions of dollars already devoted to a project that will take 40,000 cars a day off the streets on an island that has more than 733,000 vehicles. Rail, he says, will foster the kind of attractive, high-density development needed to avoid contaminating the emerald hills and valleys on the rest of the island with new suburbs and freeways."


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Published on Thursday, November 1, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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