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Hawaii: New rail system serving Honolulu aims for 2019 completion

January 11, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • Route of the rail transit system for Honolulu.
Route of the rail transit system for Honolulu. (Honolulu Authority for…)

Construction has begun on a 20-mile rail line to ease traffic congestion in Honolulu, a $5.2-billion project that will run from Kapolei to Ala Moana, the shopping and entertainment center at the start of the airport side of  Waikiki on Oahu.

On Tuesday, GPS maker Tom Tom listed Honolulu as having the fourth-worst traffic of U.S. and North American cities. (Los Angeles ranked first in the company’s Congestion Index.)

The project got a boost last month with the announcement of a $1.55-billion cash infusion from the federal government. The  announcement came two days after the Dec. 17 death of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who had championed the cause.

When fully operational in 2019, the train will travel from the Kapolei area in the west not far from Disney’s Aulani resort to the Ala Moana Center, a short ride from the scads of hotels that line Waikiki. The system is to have 21 stations; the Honolulu airport stop will be about in the middle and will be a 16-minute journey from Ala Moana.

The elevated line will also serve downtown Honolulu and the naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Environmental and cultural groups have expressed reservations about the project, saying it would degrade the city's image and could disturb grounds considered sacred to Hawaiians.

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