Major construction of the city’s $5.3 billion rail project began Monday with supporters pledging that it cannot be stopped.
A drilling apparatus was set up just off of North-South Road despite not yet securing $1.55 billion in federal funds and a lawsuit that hopes to stop the project.
The giant drill burrows the first of many holes to support the columns that will hold up the 20-mile-long elevated train.
Although no transit-oriented development contracts have been signed, the mayor is confident the rail system will transform this farming area into a bustling community.
"This is going to give us an opportunity to review and make more vital this particular area of land and keep people employed," said Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle.
Rail construction is moving forward even though the Honolulu Authority For Rapid Transit has yet to secure a full funding grant agreement from the federal government expected to be worth $1.55 billion.
The mayor repeated a line by Sen. Daniel Inouye when asked about federal dollars.
"It will take World War III to keep us from getting $1.55 billion from the federal government," said Carlisle. "If there's anybody who I would trust telling me that is Dan Inouye and the rest of our congressional delegation."
"The optimism that I've heard from those folks that we're going to see the funds lets me believe that the column that you see beginning construction today is going to be there 100 years from now," said Daniel Grabauskas, HART's executive director and CEO.
Under the limited approval that HART received from the Federal Transit Administration, another 49 columns can be built.