Sunday, November 1, 2009

Editorial: Rail's Construction Is Closer than Ever

October has given way to November as seamlessly as ever, and it’s somewhat surprising to see how close we are to Thanksgiving and the holiday season. The best time of the year for many is right around the corner, and for rail enthusiasts, the best of times also are near.

The editorial in today’s Honolulu Advertiser makes somewhat the same point. Assessing where Honolulu’s rail project now stands, the editorial says “the project is closer than ever to becoming a reality” and that the Final Environmental Impact Statement will be issued soon:

“The good news is that by the time the final EIS finds its way to Gov. Linda Lingle's desk, a multitude of state and federal agencies — including the military, the National Park Service and state and federal historic preservation offices — would have already signed off on various components of the document. So there should be no surprises. The governor should be able to promptly accept the document, keeping the project's momentum.”

Completing all required regulatory and administrative steps would please a solid majority of Oahu residents, according to a public opinion poll released last week. Conducted in September by QMark Research, a respected local firm based in Honolulu, the scientific poll found that 60 percent of the 900 respondents either "strongly support" (34 percent) or "somewhat support" (26 percent) the Honolulu rail option as described to them – “a 20-mile elevated rail transit line that will connect West Oahu with downtown Honolulu and Ala Moana Center.”

As QMark notes, support for the project stands at near a two-to-one margin over opposition (37 percent). (The margin of error for a sample of this size is =/- 3.27 percentage points with a 90 percent confidence level.)

After all has been said and done, after the contentious fight over last year's rail vote and after all the debate over elevated and at-grade transit, the public clearly wants this project built as it's current planned.

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