Mayoral candidates Kirk Caldwell and Ben Cayetano sparred over the aesthetics of the city’s $5.3 billion elevated rail project Tuesday during a forum at the Waialae Country Club sponsored by the Kahala Business Association.
Caldwell, who previously served as the city’s managing director and acting mayor, accused Cayetano of utilizing renderings of the rail project that he called misleading.
“This is fear to scare people into saying, ‘I don't support rail because this is what this city is building,’” said Caldwell, as he pointed to one of Cayetano’s renderings.
Cayetano countered the renderings being used by his campaign are accurate, since they come from the Honolulu chapter of the American Institute of Architects, which has come out against the rail project.
“Contrary to what Kirk says, they actually took measurements from the drawings that the city has to do the renderings, so they're drawn to scale,” said Cayetano.
The visions being offered by the two candidates on rail transit couldn’t be more different.
Caldwell insists the project will transform Oahu’s main transportation corridor from East Kapolei to Ala Moana by offering ample opportunity for transit oriented development around the project’s 21 stations. He believes TOD will offer more opportunities for affordable housing and create as much as $20 billion worth of investment over the next two decades.
“Make stations that are engaged with the community around it and tied to a sense of place,” Caldwell told members of the Kahala Business Association. “We can do all of that.”
Cayetano meanwhile sees the elevated rail system as blight that will threaten Oahu’s tourism industry. He also believes the project is diverting much needed funds that should be going toward the rebuilding the island’s infrastructure.
“Five to six billion for sewers, five to six billion for the water system, $1.6 billion for repaving roads,” said Cayetano, “that's the kind of costs that the city faces.”