Think About It: Rail Wail - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

December 22, 2014

Think About It: Rail Wail

The latest rail reality check informed us last week that the rail project is now projected to cost between $500 million and $700 million more than was originally projected. Were you stunned? At what point did the term "government project" not raise some caution flags for you? At what point did the improving economy not get factored into the fact that construction costs would go up and will keep going up? We've had car capacity concerns, railing platform concerns, disruption-to-business concerns- some of these were to be expected. And a growing price tag- sadly, not a real shocker to many.

For this project has been anything but a smooth ride so far. And officials last week appeared a bit baffled at why tax revenues targeted for the rail project are lower than expected, since state tax revenues in total are actually above projections. Accusations are flying about the $190 million combined in too early contract confirmations and legal costs and whether the legal obfuscation was the federal and rail official's real intent- to delay litigation and thus force underfunded opposition to back off and go away. 

Ask anybody working on a construction project today about costs versus five years ago- way up. Apparently, that probability of increased costs with an improved and more competitive economy wasn't figured in. And now there's talk of extending a state rail surcharge tax on Oahu past December, 2022, as costs don't just creep up, they surge. As the Grateful Dead once sang, "what a long, strange trip it's been"… and we're not even done. Think about it…

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