Think About It: Rail-ing Cry - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News, Weather and Sports

February 27, 2012

Think About It: Rail-ing Cry

Rarely has one issue so clearly defined an election as the rail issue does here on Oahu in the upcoming race for Honolulu mayor.  While we continue to be plagued be infra-structure problems and tax revenue issues, while we continue to look for alternative energy answers and revenue-generating ideas beyond tourism, the focus always seems to come back to rail nowadays.

Will the funding be there, will the planned elevated system be an eyesore on our landscape, will the public use it in sufficient numbers to help pay the bill and help reduce traffic to and from leeward Oahu? The funding issue is a vital component, but as for the aesthetics, keep in mind what people said about the raised highway by the airport and the H-3 freeway when those projects were first envisioned and when the first concrete pillars went up. Now, we accept the view and the convenience of the airport viaduct and the beautiful views we see while driving through Halawa Valley, thanks to H-3.

As to whether or not enough people will use rail to justify its existence, there are obviously studies all over the world to show what mass transit has done for cities and commuters. I'm not sure one example best matches our situation, but each side, both pro and con, will continue to dazzle us with figures that either prove this project's value or conversely point out why this choo-choo is being pooh-poohed by so many. And last week we were told that city debt guidelines were quietly suspended, without much fanfare, adding more consternation for some. Everyone talks about transparency in government. The rail project particulars, good or bad, continue to be clear as mud for lots of people after years of debate. Welcome to local government Hawaii style, 2012. Think about it…

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