- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Honolulu’s troubled rail project has become a dominant issue in the mayoral race.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle say the rail must be built to its full length.

But Hawaii News Now reported (https://bit.ly/2acAKiY ) it’s less clear what former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou would do about rail if he’s elected.

“I’ve asked him what his solution is to rail,” Caldwell said at a recent mayoral forum. “He says he’s open to everything, but he’s stopping at Middle Street for sure and he won’t spend any more money. Whatever solution is proposed will cost more money, and he won’t answer that question. He doesn’t want to be pinned down.”

Djou has been a critic of the rapid transit project, and is firmly against further tax increases for funding. He says he wants the rail to go to Waikiki, but critics say his plan is unclear.



“I want to get it to Waikiki,” said Djou. “I want to get to the University of Hawaii — that’s a solution I think we ultimately need. Some of these proposals that I’ve heard about — whether it’s conversion to light rail, putting it at grade or BRT (bus rapid transit) — I think can get us there and get us there a lot cheaper.”

Caldwell and Carlisle are committed to building the rail line to Ala Moana Center.

Carlisle proposes building rail with just the bare basics. He’s willing to consider raising taxes as a last resort.

“The excise tax has been a very good way of doing it,” Carlisle said. “It’s been successful so far, so do I believe that extending that is a good idea? Absolutely and unequivocally.”

Caldwell wants 100 percent of the project built, not a stripped-down version. He says any hope of getting more funding from the federal government is on hold until after the presidential and congressional elections, so he’s looking at other alternatives to cover costs for the remaining four-mile, eight-station stretch to Ala Moana.

“I’ve talked with our state leaders - both at the Legislature and in our business community,” Caldwell said. “I’ve gone to the developers where rail has run asking how much would they be willing to pay to have stations built on their properties or through their properties.”

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Information from: KGMB-TV, https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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