U.S. Transportation Chief: Rail 'Progressing Fine'

Adrienne LaFrance/Civil Beat

Although U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was the guest of honor at a Tuesday night gathering of politicians and union leaders in a Hilton Hawaiian Village conference room, the event was mostly a testament to Sen. Dan Inouye's influence.

"I came here at the invitation of Sen. Inouye," LaHood told the crowd. "Sen. Inouye has been an extraordinary leader in the Senate. We rely on him so much for the work we do in transportation."

Inouye was there, along with Federal Transit Administration Administrator Peter Rogoff and Sen. Daniel Akaka.

"One of the reasons we came out here was to give the leaders in the community a status report on where we think things are at," LaHood said in an interview afterward. "We think things are progressing fine. There's probably a few more things that need to be done, some additional paperwork."

The long list of local political players in the room included Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, chief rail planner Toru Hamayasu, former Managing Director Kirk Caldwell, Sen. Gil Kahele, City Council members Nestor Garcia, Breene Harimoto, Stanley Chang, Ernie Martin and Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo. The Pacific Resource Partnership — a carpenters union organization that advocates unionized construction — hosted the event.

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