Next move: picking exact route, method
By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Mike Leidemann
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.
BUILDING THE FIRST PART
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.