Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hawaii Looks To Community Rail To Bail Them Out

Hawaii's unemployment rate has doubled in the past year. 6,000 construction jobs lost across the state and 3,000 union members without work, things are not well. To make matters worse, the State of Hawaii is dealing with a multi-year deficit of $2B, while the City of Honolulu gets their heads around a $50M deficit! What can turn it all around for them? RAIL.
So how much of an impact can a rail project have you ask?
The State of Hawaii and the City of Honolulu now pins its hopes, dreams, money and jobs on city's rail transit system. Some thought it would never be built given the financial condition of the government, but officials say:

“The only real hope that we have on the horizon in my mind is rail,” City Managing Director Kirk Caldwell said.

Dozens of Waipahu residents gathered Wednesday night at the second of three community rail station workshops to discuss transit and give input.

“If it’s going to bring jobs to Hawaii its going to keep the money in Hawaii,” Waipahuresident Ty Cullen said.

Some of the residents expressed concern over whether the rail is actually going to be built considering the state of the economy but city officials say...

“We have collected about 400-million through the surcharge, the federal government, Dan Inouye said there’s somewhere between 1-billion and 1.5 billion that will be forth coming,” Caldwell said.

“Without a doubt its the project that couldn't come quicker,” Pacific Resource Partnership Kyle Chock said."

So how much of an impact can a rail project have? 6,000 carpenters and 11,000 construction jobs directly and indirectly, as well as architects, engineers, design consultants and a host of others. This is an elevated system like our SkyTrain and you can read more about the project here.

Maybe it will take an economic disaster before we see light rail transit in our area? The canadian federal government is certainly spending more money on rail and transit now that they have in a VERY long time. 

Last night at the Township of Langley's Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) meeting (which I am a voting member of), I spoke passionately about selling Langley as a light rail transit manufacturing hub. Some of my fellow committee members wanted to keep the industry broader, but I felt it is better to have some goals and focus. We compromised and left LRT manufacturing in the draft work plan to council, but will be looking to lure a number of industries based on current needs and future predictions. I'm hoping I can find someone that can speak on business growth for green industries that include LRT and have them make a presentation to the EDAC. Please e-mail me if you know of anyone that is good and with great credentials to speak on such topics. 


Light Rail Guy said...

Sadly this is a disastrous plan, based on contrived studies and political prestige. Local politico's want an elevated transit system so it would not affect road traffic.

Of course Bombardier jumped on the bandwagon flogging SkyTrain (or the second time) and if one scrutinizes the data, this project will become a massive financial black hole.

The Hawaii SkyTrain project is a disaster and will vastly increase local taxes, including business taxes, which will in turn drive small merchants away.

Like Vancouver, transit is being used to inflate the value of local properties for the benefit of political friends.

I'm afraid it is all a massive snow job.

Joe Zaccaria said...

Yes, we don't want to "affect road traffic", but we have no problem putting massive ugly concrete up in the air, ruining sight lines and making the environment look like crap. I've been to many LRT cities and I don't see the trains affecting the road traffic, except for some center lane systems.