Fixing a financial crisis with a people mover? Details of HART’s light-rail options released

Written by RT&S Staff
Major utility work is ready to take place on HART’s light rail project.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) said it would be more transparent with the public regarding next steps for its light-rail line currently under construction.

However, when the list of options was complete it was marked confidential. Pressed by think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, HART has released the details.

The list of options runs 27 deep and includes changes to design, technology and length. There is one suggestion of building an automated people mover with a lighter guideway structure past Middle Street. The trains could be powered with maglev technology, and construction could involve a tunnel that would go to either Ala Moana, which is the original end of the line for the light rail route, or at the University of Hawaii Manoa.

Tweeks also are among the solutions listed, like shifting station locations and guideway alignment. Private financing to build some of the stations has been discussed. Eight of the options deal with utility relocation.

Just three of the ideas come with more pros than cons, and one of them is building the light-rail line as planned. Going that route has 12 pros compared to just two cons, and both of the cons deal with utility relocation.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will have to sign off on any changes and has been withholding HART’s final $744 million in federal funding for the project for the past six years.

In May, Honolulu Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi introduced a resolution for the project to stop at Middle Street. The resolution cites language from a 2016 letter from FTA Administrator Carolyn Flowers that said the agency would be open to a plan that comes in short of Ala Moana. There has been no hearing scheduled for the resolution.

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