Essay On Hawaii Rail Transit System

Submitted By jpoggi
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Awa Poggi
Eng. 1C
Professor Holly Cannon
Hawaii Rail Transit System One of the most controversial issues in Hawaii among Oahu residents is the city’s plan to construct a 20-mile, elevated steel on steel rail project from Kapolei to Honolulu. The rail transit system is meant to improve traffic conditions, jobs for residents, and provide economic stimulus. This issue has caused much frustration to many people and there have been recent lawsuits filed by several prominent Hawaii residents. The rail is estimated to cost $5.3 billion, with an additional $1.7 billion in cost overruns that a state-commissioned study found to be a likely possibility last year. Although the rail transit system is meant to decrease traffic and increase job occupations, the rail should be banned because of the cost, the potential impact on Native Hawaiian burial sites, continued traffic congestion, and many more emerging arguments against the rail. (Kim). The costs of the rail system needs to be looked at in terms of other public needs, such as who benefits from it, and whether enough people benefit to justify the expense. In the case of rail, there are two categories of potential beneficiaries: those who ride the rail line, and those who would be able to use the streets and highways with less traffic congestion if enough people switched from cars to transit. Neither of these groups, however, represents large sections of the population. Also, Hawaii is already in a budget crisis and the annual burden on Honolulu's budget will continue indefinitely if the rail is built. There are also many people who have gone into unemployment because of company downsizing or companies going out of business, but the city has enough money to pay $5.3 billion dollars to build a rail transit system that would only benefit less then half of Oahu’s population. (Tummons). Another issue against the rail is that there is a good chance that the fourth and final part of the elevated-rail project will impact Native Hawaiian burials in the Kaka’ako area. The city planned to run a portion of the rail through oceanfront Honolulu property that is known to contain these burials. A lawsuit was filed and the conclusion came to be that the Department of Land and Natural Resources and its rules govern how the survey work should be done and how any remains and Native Hawaiian burials that are discovered should be handled. Many Native Hawaiians are in opposition to digging up there ancestor’s burial sites to be replaced with the rail transit system (Nemani). Additionally, a reporter stated that “the current commute of about 60 minutes that would be affected by rail, from Kapolei to Downtown. What the city has claimed is that in the future, this commute will become about 80 minutes without rail, and 75 minutes with rail”. This goes to show that in the future, after spending $5.3 Billion, there will still be traffic congestion and the rail is only estimated to take five minutes out of traffic time. This amount of time taken out of traffic is not worth the cost of the rail (Kim). The city has always argued for the benefits of implementing this project in spite of the cost, including potential for development, a claimed 17,000 added jobs, and provide economic stimulus. Also, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle released the results of a city-commissioned poll that showed that a majority of Oahu residents still supported the city’s $5.3 billion dollar rail transit project. The poll indicated that 58 percent believe rail is “a good investment” for Honolulu, and that 70 percent agree that rail will have a “positive impact on jobs and the economy.” The rail transit is meant to provide people living and working from West Oahu to Ala Moana Center with a fast, reliable