Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Ground was broken for the Honolulu rail project in the traditional Hawaiian way -- with o`o sticks. From left: State Senate President Shan Tsutsui; House Speaker Calvin Say; Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz; US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa; US Senator Daniel Akaka; US Senator Daniel Inouye; Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle; City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia; Director of Transportation Services Wayne Yoshioka; General Manager, Honolulu Rail Project Toru Hamayasu, and former Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
US senators said it. Mayors past and present said it. State and City dignitaries and old friends in the crowd said it repeatedly to one another. Everybody at today’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Honolulu rail project expressed pretty much the same thought:

“What a day this is, and what a long time it’s been in coming!”

Across the street, a dozen or so protestors looked on as upwards of 500 enthusiastic rail supporters filled a tent to overflowing next to Kualakai Parkway in East Kapolei for this morning’s ceremony.

It was a groundbreaking like no other rail project has ever seen in these United States – not unless they also had the Royal Hawaiian Band playing, hula dancers dancing, conch shells blowing and o`o sticks turning the dirt.

The media were out in force, and we’ll leave the telling of the day’s events to the print and broadcast outlets. For us, these pictures say it best.
The big tent shaded hundreds of attendees.
A dozen or so protestors attracted their share of attention.
A panorama view squeezes everybody into the shot.
Mayor Carlisle presided over the much-anticipated event.
Project General Manager Hamayasu received an enthusiastic cheer from the Rail Transit Division.
Kahu Kaleo Patterson distributed the o`o sticks to the dignitaries.
Director Yoshioka accepts with a smile.
Former Mayor Hannemann relaunched the rail project.
Kahu Patterson blessed the land.
Amar Sappal (seated), who managed a rail project during the Frank Fasi Administration 20 years ago, shared a moment with Joe Magaldi, a City colleague from those days.
Joyce Fasi was a front-row attendee and a reminder of her husband's strenuous and multiple efforts to build Honolulu rail.
Mayor Carlisle fielded questions during the inevitable post-ceremony interview opportunity about what comes next for Honolulu rail.


Mark Torreano said...

Doug, there were about 50 protesters, not the "dozen or so" you cite.

And to be accurate, you should use the same words the City used in describing this "groundbreaking" event. They termed it a "ceremonial groundbreaking." The qualifier "ceremonial" reflects the fact that the project is NOT yet approved to begin construction, although some prepatory work not considered part of the project is going on at City expense.

Also good for people to understand that the anticipated Federal funding of $1.5B has not been approved yet and once construction starts, the City will ask the taxpayer to make up the diference if the Feds fund none or only some of the $1.5B, as well as cover the inevitatble cost overruns.

Doug Carlson said...

One dozen is what I saw across the street; maybe you're counting sign wavers up the road. I note you don't dispute my count inside the tent. And is the anti-rail argument now reduced to parsing words -- groundbreaking ceremony vs ceremonial groundbreaking? Pretty weak.

I'm pretty sure people paying attention to the daily media know something about the process by now. As for your prediction, that also appears to be an anti-railer tactic -- playing the "what if" card. Also pretty weak.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,

Thank you for the great pictures of the groundbreaking!

I know construction has not even started on the initial segment, but I am already looking forward to extension of the rail line into Waikiki and to UH Manoa. Any word that you have heard on these proposals? I would love to see the rail line eventually make it out to Hawaii Kai, the WIndward side and to the North Shore (via Mililani and Wahiawa). I am hopeful for an island wide rail system in my lifetime.

Thanks again for the great work and keep on posting!