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Honolulu rail project way behind, billions of dollars over estimate

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Staff Writer | June 25, 2017
An elevated rail project in Hawaii's capital Honolulu is way behind schedule and cash strapped, as lawmakers scramble to find ways to continue to fund it.
Honolulu rail
Hawaii   The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
The controversial project, which began on 2011, is now billions of dollars over its original cost estimate as Sara Vui-Talitu reports.

The funding shortfall is for an overly ambitious transit project to complete a 20-mile elevated rail line linking West Oahu with downtown Honolulu and Ala Moana Center.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, or HART, website states it hopes the first phase of the system from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium will open in 2020 and in 2025, the entire system will be operational.

But a civil engineer in Hawaii is urging lawmakers to halt work on the incomplete project because of the cost blow-out.

Panos Prevedouros, who was involved in the first assessment committee for the rail system, says back in 2006 the projected cost was $US4.6 billion.

"Now the train is 5 years late and at least 100% over budget but we won't be expecting many people to use it as island life is complicated as living in Honolulu is so expensive and most people have two jobs or more. So they need flexible transportation - buses, private car or motorbike."

He says the price tag to complete the project has risen to $US10 billion, prompting talk of tax hikes while fearing the system will hardly improve transportation.