Moderate Caldwell Says 'Build Rail Better'

Michael Levine/Civil Beat

If Ben Cayetano is a naysayer and Peter Carlisle is a yes man, does that give Kirk Caldwell a window to become Honolulu's next mayor?

That's the political strategy Caldwell's now trying when it comes to the controversial Honolulu rail system.

The former acting mayor and longtime rail proponent called reporters to his Nimitz Highway headquarters Tuesday afternoon for what his campaign promised would be a "major statement" on the proposed 20-mile system.

Instead, Caldwell talked about how to "build rail better," painting Cayetano as a single-minded "just say no" candidate and Carlisle as a do-it-at-any-cost candidate. He said he wants to re-engage with the community to take another last look at the design for the fourth and final segment of the system, in Downtown Honolulu.

He's trying to walk a political tightrope.

Caldwell said he wants to "take a breath" so the city can listen to the community now and avoid heartburn later, but repeatedly said he does not want to delay work at all. He said he wants to give the community a chance to rethink rail, but ruled out big changes like taking the elevated system down to street level because that would be outside of the scope of the existing environmental review.

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