Honolulu Transit Chair Says He Has Serious 'Concerns' About Rail

Adrienne LaFrance/Civil Beat

Breene Harimoto, chairman of the Honolulu City Council Transportation Committee and a longtime rail supporter, is raising questions about whether the project can go forward.

"I have to choose my words very carefully," Harimoto told Civil Beat Tuesday. "I think if we're unable to resolve the concerns, and we proceed down the path that we are proceeding, I think it would be extremely difficult to continue the project."

Harimoto attributes his growing concerns about the project to the Carlisle administration's lack of transparency and forthrightness. While he says he's confident about federal funding, he's concerned about how much local taxpayers will have to pay for the project.

Harimoto's comments to Civil Beat came a day after the administration announced $946 million in contracts for the $5.5 billion project, and on the same day U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administration Administrator Peter Rogoff are in Honolulu. A federal, state and city meeting on rail is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Asked whether "there are things that the administration knows that haven't been shared with the City Council and the public," Harimoto said, "Yes."

"Over the years that I've been observing the council working with the administration, it's been clear there have been issues," said Harimoto, who was elected in November after serving on the state Board of Education. "Since I've been on the council, I've experienced, personally, some of those issues. It's why I have concerns.

"These concerns have been building and growing," he said. "Certainly after my trip to Washington, D.C., talking with the FTA. The more major concerns are with regard to transparency, that the council and the public are given full information — accurate, complete information about the project."

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