Hawaii’s Rail Pushed Back To After 2024


Brad Angelo

Kamehameha Highway is hit hard with constant construction grinding traffic to a crawl.

The Hawaii Rail Transit project has been a hot topic of debate even before the start of its construction in February 2011. The project was originally scheduled to finish in 2020 on a budget of $6.9 billion. That projection was blown out in May 2016 when the Federal Transit Administration revealed that it will cost as much as $1.2 billion more than estimated, adding up to $8.1 billion. The FTA also will be delaying the completion of the rail for approximately another five years. We asked local people about their feelings towards the Honolulu Rail Transit project after finding out about the budget overages and completion delays.

Gavin Chun, a 24-year-old, said that,”I was on board when they first started, but as time went on and with all the problems that keep happening, I feel like Hawaii’s people will be paying for this thing their whole lives,” said Chun. When asked if he would use it when it’s eventually finished, he said maybe once or twice for the fun of it, but integrating it into everyday life probably wouldn’t be convenient for him.

“It sucks,” said Carl Hier a 45-year-old, “I’m probably gonna be dead before they finish the thing. Really the only good thing coming out of it is more jobs.” Hier thinks that no one is going to ride it because it’s not the main form of transportation in Hawaii. Hier went on to explain that since cars and buses are how everyone gets around now. people will be much more resistant to changing the way they get around.

Finding people that still support the rail can be challenging. On the other side of the spectrum, 22-year-old Sean Jones is still rather optimistic about the whole project.

“Yea, it’s really bad now, but hopefully when they finish it, it will help alleviate traffic,” said Jones. When told about the budget overages and delays, he was still surprisingly optimistic.

“I still believe that it will be useful in the end. If it helps alleviate traffic at all then it was worth it.”

With all the problems that have come up, many people doubt that the rail will ever be completed. Funding problems continue to plague the project and Hawaii’s people have been paying the price. Kamehameha Highway, that runs past Pearlridge Center and Pearl City, has been one of the road suffering the most traffic build up ever since the project started. Construction reduces a lot of the highway to just one lane and slows down traffic immensely. These are just some of the problems caused by the rail that the people of Hawaii have to deal with and if something is not done soon then it will continue this way.