Friday, September 10, 2010

Continuing Our Commentary on At-Grade Rail: Vehicle Accident Lawsuits Would Be Inevitable

Now that the State’s financial review of the Honolulu rail project reportedly is underway (the draft FEIS was delivered to the State last December), we’re continuing to anticipate an objection from the Governor’s office for some reason aside from finances.

She’s repeatedly voiced support for at-grade rail transit, so we're anticipating an attempt to slow rail’s progress by citing alleged savings to be derived from ground-level rail. Naturally, we’ll continue to point out at-grade’s drawbacks.

Anticipating Lawsuits

Cities with at-grade systems continue to experience train-vehicle accidents – and that’s by drivers relatively used to dealing with mainland train crossings. Oahu drivers for the most part have no such experience, so we can only speculate about how well or poorly they’d deal with something like a multi-car train on our crowded urban streets.

We think poorly, and if that were the case, another expense from building at ground level would be lawsuits aimed directly at the City and County of Honolulu. It’s happening elsewhere; a recent ruling by the California Court of Appeals has attracted considerable online attention.

Building Honolulu rail elevated above all pedestrian and vehicle traffic will eliminate the possibility of train-vehicle collisions. It’s really that clear-cut – and so is the impossibility of at-grade rail delivering fast, frequent and reliable service.

We hope someone in the Governor’s office pays serious attention to at-grade transit’s many negatives before it becomes the raison de jour to resist approving rail's Final Environmental Impact Statement.

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