Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday Review: Sierra Club Rail Endorsement Is Step that Could Decide Issue for Many on Sideline

Sierra Club support for the rail project has been implied for months, but now it apparently will be official.
Hawaii News Now broke the story last night:

“The Sierra Club, one of the state's best known environmental groups, appears ready to back the city's $5.2 billion rail transit project in what would be a major victory for rail supporters.”

According to the TV report, the Oahu Group’s leadership voted unanimously a week ago to support the rail project. HNN quoted Robert Harris, executive director of the club’s state chapter, in saying an official announcement could be made in the coming week.

The announcement should put to rest once and for all at least one statement by four leading rail opponents in their August 2011 op-ed piece that launched their public relations campaign against rail.

Civil Beat fact-checked several major observations in the piece, including this one: “Virtually every environmental group in Hawaii opposes heavy rail.” A week after the 1500-word essay’s publication, Civil Beat’s check gave it a  FALSE . That was a reasonable conclusion given the Oahu Group’s clear statement of support for Honolulu’s fixed-guideway project.

Excellent Summary
Rail supporters appear to be as eager as opponents to leave comments below the Star-Advertiser’s stories, editorials and letters. Here’s one from today’s review of the week’s news in the Editorial section. It’s a good summary of why supporters believe Honolulu rail is needed now and for future generations, quoting:

Rail benefits everybody for the following reasons:
1) Rail provides a transportation alternative for those who cannot drive or do not wish to drive in traffic.
2) Rail provides a faster ride than buses through congested areas. Elevated rail has its own right-of-way and will not get stuck in clogged surface streets as buses.
3) Rail can carry a higher volume of people faster between any of the stops along its route.
4) When car drivers take the rail, there are less cars on the road which alleviates traffic congestion for other drivers.
5) Building the rail will create jobs and provide billions of dollars in economic activity.
6) The federal government will provide $1.5 billion of free rail subsidy which helps our economy.
We should be committed to building the rail and be confident that we can afford it. Rail is a needed infrastructure which will help alleviate our traffic problem and stimulate our economy with sorely needed jobs. Build rail now for the future. Rail projects are always opposed when planned but never regretted after they are built. GO Rail GO! Close Quote.

Opponents naturally have chimed in to ridicule the sentiment, and some presumably would argue against some or all of these six points.  As an educational primer, however, we think it works.

1 comment:

Roy Kamisato said...

Glad to hear "The Sierra Club" has done it's homework. Building more freeways and surface streets encourages the use of more cars. The Sierra Club understands the concept that for the future of our planet we must reduce our dependency on the automobile.