Tuesday, November 24, 2009

While “No Rubber Stamp” Pledge is No Surprise, Lingle’s Long-Term Legacy Rides on OKing FEIS

Governor Linda Lingle made the unsurprising statement on a talk show yesterday that she’ll be no “rubber stamp” when it’s time for her to sign off on the rail project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Here’s the pertinent passage from the Advertiser’s story today:

"I'm going to spend my life in Hawaii," Lingle said. "I'm not going to have people look back and say 'Why couldn't you see that this couldn't work? Why didn't you force them to review the alternatives?'
"So I will not rubber-stamp the document. It will not be a quick, couple days turnaround."

Of course, the other thing people may say to the Governor if she refuses to sign the FEIS is, “What were you thinking when you stopped this project after all the effort and study that’s been put into it? And how could you possibly conclude that the alternatives hadn’t been fully analyzed or that we couldn’t afford it?”

We leave the political analysis to the newspaper columnists, but isn't the Governor saying what she has to say? She can't sign off without making statements like this, so the no-rubber-stamp pledge raises no eyebrows.

Imagining a Legacy

The Governor says she plans to be around Hawaii for quite some time, and that future presumably will be in politics. The only way “up” for her is to the United States Senate, and it’s hard to see how blocking a project backed by a solid majority of Oahu residents (where most of the votes are) could do her any good.

She certainly doesn’t want to be remembered as this century’s Rene Mansho, the Honolulu City Council member who cast the deciding vote in 1992 against the proposed rail transit tax that would have provided the local contribution for Mayor Frank Fasi’s fixed guideway project.

So let’s see how this plays out. We have to believe the Governor will conclude that the alternatives to an elevated project – alternatives that were thoroughly vetted, notwithstanding the anti-rail crowd’s assertions – all are inferior to the City’s plan.

Grade-separated transit is the only travel mode that completely avoids traffic congestion, which is why it's the only way to achieve the project's goals of providing fast, frequent and reliable transportation. It therefore is the only mode that allows you to predict your time of arrival. As we like to say here, that’s why they call it a timetable!
Surely the Governor can appreciate that central fact about the City's rail transit plan.


PRT Strategies said...

Good for her. This is a debacle that, if built, islanders will forever regret.

Better alternatives exist at http://www.prtstrategies.com/honolulu.html.

Doug Carlson said...

You're left your PRT message here several times, and as we've said previously in respoonse, PRT certainly is NOT a "better alternative" for the obvious reason that it's not a "mass transit" alternative.

Maybe there's a niche for your people-moving pods, but I find it hard to believe you can make an economic case for it considering the construction cost.

Remember, like virtually every city with traffic and commuter issues, the goal is to move large numbers of passengers quickly, efficiently and reliably across the urban landscape. Honolulu's rail project is perfectly suited to our need in this community.

Doug Carlson said...

Oops. I didn't even address your "debacle" quote. We can't agree -- obviously. Moving 100,000+ commuters each day bypassing all surface traffic in Honolulu hardly fits your description.