The City and County of Honolulu is in the process of building a $5.2 billion elevated rapid-transit line that will cover approximately 20 miles from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. The planned route passes through Ewa, Waipahu, Pearl City, Aiea, Kalihi, downtown Honolulu and Kakaako. Since release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in November 2008, the city has made a route adjustment to bring a stop near the Honolulu International Airport into federal compliance. The proposed route is scheduled for completion by 2019. Future plans call for eventually extending the line to the University of Hawaii-Manoa and Waikiki.
After years of debate, three lawsuits and a ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court that construction had to be stopped because of the city’s failure to follow environmental laws (including the need to produce a cultural assessment) for the rail project, the rail is back under construction. The $5.16 billion project spans 20 miles and will have 21 stations. It is slated for completion by 2019. The project is being funded through a 0.5% surcharge to the General Excise Tax on Oahu, paid by residents and visitors alike, and with funds from the Federal Transit Administration.
The City has made a $1.4 billion contract with AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS, which are both partially owned by an Italian company called Finmeccanica.
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is currently soliciting bids for contracts to build nine rail stations in West Oahu, worth an estimated $150 to $170 million total. RFPs for guideway construction by the airport and city center will go out in July 2014; RFPs for a park and ride lot will go out in September; and RFPs for four stations near the Airport will go out in November.
Opponents have been critical that the rail does not go to UH Manoa or Waikiki, that other alternatives such as light rail or managed lanes might be better, and that the project will not actually solve traffic problems. Some feel the project will be too expensive and that money will be wasted or used unethically.