Hawaii Rail construction racing toward 2019 openingUPDATED 7:13 PM HST Jun 05, 2014Video Transcript
The next step for Honolulu's rail project is a huge one, actually several huge ones. One-by-one sections of guideway that will support the driverless train are going up in East Kapolei KITV4's Andrew Pereira has the... latest developments. Andrew? Paula, it's an important milestone for the project as it races toward a full opening in 2019. But as rail comes online some city buses will quit running, and the mayor is already talking about making the 20-mile system longer. Things are looking up for Honolulu's 5.3 billion rail project. DAN GRABAUSKAS: "BETWEEN THE COLUMNS IN BACK OF ME YOU SEE THE FIRST 12 PIECES, OR THE FIRST TWELVE SEGMENTS, THAT HAVE BEEN PUT TOGETHER TO FORM THE SPAN THAT WILL MAKE UP THE 20 MILES OF OUR PROJECT." These guideways are going up on land that'll could be occupied by 11,750 homes as part of D.R. Horton's Hoopili project. These 3 foot high sound barriers are supposed to keep things quiet for future residents. DAN GRABAUSKAS: "THE QUICKEST WAY THAT I'VE BEEN ABLE TO DESCRIBE TO FOLKS IS IT'S GOING TO BE QUIETER THEN THE BUSES GOING DOWN THE CITY STREETS." However some of those buses like the Makaha Express may no longer operate. Since rail will serve Oahu's main east-west corridor, many of The Bus' express routes will be cut. KIRK CALDWELL: "WE'LL TAKE THOSE BUSES AND USE THEM IN OTHER AREAS TO BRNG PEOPLE TO THE RAIL STATION. AND IT'S GOING TO QUICKER BECAUSE FROM HERE, FROM KROC CENTER TO ALA MOANA SHOPPING CENTER, IS ABOUT 42 MINUTES." ANDREW PEREIRA: "BUT ONCE PEOPLE GET HERE WILL THERE BE ENOUGH PARKING STALLS? THE STATION AT EAST KAPOLEI WILL FEATURE 900 STALLS, THE STATION AT UH WEST OAHU ANOTHER 1,000." KYMBERLY PINE: "WE CAN ENSURE THAT WE CAN ARRIVE AT HOME ON TIME AND GET TO WORK ON TIME AND JUST REALLY FOCUS ON IMPROVING OUR QUALITY OF LIFE FOR OUR FAMILY MEMBERS." The first 10 miles of the elevated guideway is scheduled to begin operating in 2017. When the entire 20 mile system comes online with 21 rail stations in 2019, operation and maintenance is expected to cost about $100 million per year. KIRK CALDWELL: "A MERGED BUS AND RAIL SYSTEM, WHICH IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW; WE'RE GOING TO MAKE SURE IT'S SEEMLESS AND WORKS WELL TOGETHER, SHOULD ACTUALLY BRING DOWN THE OVERALL COSTS. INSTEAD OF IT SKYROCKETING LIKE THIS, IT SHOULD GO LIKE THIS." The mayor is already talking to state lawmakers about extending the half percent general excise tax surcharge that would allow rail to reach Kapolei's city center and the University of Hawaii. KIRK CALDWELL: "EVERYONE SAYS IT SHOULD GO TO UH MANOA; I AGREE IT SHOULD." About 1,400 people are currently employed as a direct result of the rail project. That's expected to grow to 4,000 direct jobs in 2015 and 2016. The project's latest progress report shows there could be higher construction costs because a change in station designs could affect the guideway.