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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 23, 2006

Next move: picking exact route, method

 •  Transit approved

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer


Now that the City Council has selected an outline for a locally preferred alternative for transit, here's a city schedule of what's likely to happen next.

Jan. 1, 2007: The state will begin collecting a half-percentage point surcharge on the general excise tax on O'ahu to help pay for the transit project.

January 2007: City administration will study possible routes for fixed-guideway lines for costs, ridership and environmental concerns to determine a final preferred alignment.

February 2007: City to pick the "minimal operating segment," the part of the project that will be built first.

February 2007: A detailed environmental review of the selected transit area will be conducted, seeking public input to determine possible effects of the project.

June 2007: Preliminary engineering will begin to study the best possible technologies and seek Federal Transit Authority funds to help pay for the line.

Feb. 2009 to Feb. 2010: Final design work.

2009: Construction begins.

2012: City says first segment could begin operations.

2017: Construction complete.

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Yesterday's selection of a locally preferred alternative for mass transit is just one important step in what could be a decade-long process before a line becomes fully operational, officials said.

Now that the City Council has had its input into the process, administration officials plan to review the proposed alignments and make choices about the exact route and technology for the transit line.

"We're not going to rest on our laurels," said Mayor Mufi Hannemann. "This is just an excellent first step."

The next move will be the city's evaluation of potential route alignments through West O'ahu and the Salt Lake/Honolulu International Airport areas, said Toru Hamayasu, the city's chief transportation engineer.


Once that's done in about a month, the city will decide on what's called a minimum operating segment, the first part of the rail line to be built, Hamayasu said.

Between then and early 2009, city officials will conduct a lengthy, detailed environmental analysis of the proposed transit line, which will include dozens of public meetings and other opportunities for public comment. At the same time, officials will begin preliminary engineering of the first portion of the line. That's the detailed process that will produce the exact shape and look of the fixed guideway system, including a determination of the preferred technology.

Among the technologies to be considered will be fixed rail, monorail, magnetic levitation, and rubber-tired buses.


In the meantime, the city will also be working on financing for the project.

On Jan. 1, the state will begin collecting a half-percentage point surcharge on the general excise tax in Honolulu, which can only be used for the transit project. Officials estimate that the surcharge will raise between $150 million and $230 million a year for the next 10 years.

Even with about $3 billion generated by the tax, the city will have to seek other funding to complete the full fixed guideway line, now estimated to cost more than $5 billion.

The extra money could come from the federal government's programs for transit as well as state, federal and private funds given to develop areas near the transit stations.

Hannemann has said he hopes to have a first segment operational by 2012 and the full line running by 2019.

Reach Mike Leidemann at mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com.