NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Honolulu: Mega Rail Project in a Micro City

July 11, 2011

An exorbitantly costly rapid transit heavy rail project has been proposed for the small Hawaiian island of Oahu, where the leading metropolis, Honolulu, ranks 53rd in population among U.S. cities with less than 500,000 people.  If the project moves forward it will be the world's only elevated heavy rail in a metro area with a population of under four million, says Panos D. Prevedouros, a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

  • Nothing about this 20-mile long rail project makes sense, except for its politics and its cronyism.
  • It is projected to cost $5.3 billion according to the financial analysis of the city, or $7.2 billion, according to the state.
  • For comparison, the Blue Line between Los Angeles and Long Beach that opened in 1990 has the same length and would cost roughly $1.5 billion to build now.

Honolulu is still completing the paperwork for its heavy rail, but preparatory construction has already started.  This irrational project needs to be stopped.

  • Stopping it will save the federal government $1.8 billion, save overtaxed Hawaii residents well over $5 billion, and save visitors to Hawaii about $700 million.
  • It will save prime agricultural land, preserve island beauty and, importantly, save Honolulu from decades of added taxation, debilitating construction, and lack of funds for essential infrastructure projects.

Source: Panos D. Prevedouros, "Honolulu: Mega Rail Project in a Micro City," New Geography, July 5, 2011.

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