Rail, Rail, The Gangs All Here - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News, Weather and Sports

April 28, 2011

Rail, Rail, The Gang's All Here

The city has once again provided a new estimate for the cost of the Honolulu rail transit system. Drum roll, please.. the new figure is $5.3-billion, down from the last estimate of $5.5-billion. But before you run out and spend the $200-million in savings, keep in mind these are only estimates. And while the mayor stated, with all good intent, that the sharper pencils have come out, we have all been around a long time and seen construction around the airport and the decades-long H-3 project to know that costs just never quite end up to be what they look like in the early stage when it comes to government projects.

The last project cost update came almost two-years ago, and you can take this new number and bet the house on it that it will change again as this project morphs and faces yet more challenges and protests before it sees its first passenger somewhere down the line. Inflation, construction costs, unforeseen snafus at sites, energy prices, weather setbacks, cost of materials, you name it, it will affect this project in the years ahead. That's not to say that there won't be some possible savings along the way, too, but this elevated system has a long way to go before the numbers are fully understood and absolute.

Such is the nature of huge government undertakings. Let's hope that those other vital numbers- the numbers that suggest a certain amount of users perennially- don't change too much and do come to fruition to help ensure that this project does live up to the many promises made so far, including the promise about mostly paying for itself down the line. Think about it…

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