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Rail is going to get worse before it gets unbearable.

"In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved."
     
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. August 12, 2013, p; A15.      Wall Street Journal.".

 

date   September 25, 2016

SA's Shapiro: "Rail is headed for the deep after a long, pricey journey":

David Shapiro writes a snippet on rail in his column this week, "Contractors who worked on Oahu rail say the project could end up costing more than $10 billion and take 15 more years to complete to Ala Moana. By the time it’s done, the last leg will be an Atlantis Submarine Adventure."

We wonder how many at the Star Advertiser feel the same way.

 

date   September 19, 2016

Hawaii Free Press today: "Feds: $540M in highway funds can be spent on rail":

Andrew Walden has written an excellent piece in today's Hawaii Free Press detailing how $540 million in Hawaii's Federal Highway funds could be made available to bail out the rail project.

Dr. Prevedouros concurred with that commenting, "The article is accurate. HDOT [Hawaii Department of Transportation] does not want to divert funds for rail but if Governor Ige agrees with Mayor Caldwell and asks, then highway funds can be programmed to assist with rail's road work."

Our view is that in one of the most lane-deficient states in the nation the last thing we should be doing is diverting funds from highways to rail.

 

date   September 18, 2016

S-A op/ed today: "It’s not too late to make right call on rail":

Professors Prevedouros and Roth have a great op/ed in today's Star Advertiser that makes you think through the unthinkable -- stopping the rail dead and turning into a park. You definitely need to READ MORE
 

S-A story today: Kiewit to lose $100 million on rail project?:

This is another  interesting messmanagement story about rail for what it says about the construction labor market and what it says about construction cost forecasting for both HART and Kiewit.

We don't see how either one could not have seen this tight labor market coming. These enormous condos sprouting up in Kaka'ako took a great deal of time to plan and get the necessary zoning changes, all of which is a matter of public record. Kiewit could at least rest easy that they could make it up in change orders but they may have misjudged, as the story discusses, the quality of labor you get when bottom feeding. READ MORE

 

date   September 17, 2016

Why rail to Ala Moana will cost at least $11 billion:

HART says they can build to Middle Street for $6.22 billion while the Mayor implies that it might be a stretch to get to Middle Street for the $6.8 billion in available funding. HART’s total projected cost to get to Ala Moana Center is $8.1 million.

In either case, they are not allowing enough for the final five-mile segment to Ala Moana. If the Mayor is right and it takes $6.8 billion to get to Middle Street that leaves only $1.3 billion to finish it.

However, this final segment is certainly the most challenging one because,

1. It has eight stations, 38 percent of the 21 stations.

2. It has the costly separation of electrical utilities from the rail line, which they have not yet even projected the costs, let               alone actually dealt with the reality of it.

3. It will have to deal with a mile and a half of fill land in those places formerly makai of the old waterfront.

4. It will face heavy concentrations of ‘iwi once it gets into Halekauwila Street.

5. They have to cope with tight urban spaces and they have not had to contend with that so far.

Given all the problems in the final segment it is more likely the final 25 percent of the rail line length to Ala Moana Center will be 35 to 40 percent of the total costs. In that case the total costs would around $11 billion.

Our long-time followers will remember that we never forecast any cost overruns before rail got to Dillingham Boulevard but once we started down Dillingham we thought the costs would morph out of sight; it would be a cost quicksand.

It is obvious to everyone but HART that this puppy will go a lot further north than $8.1 billion. We like the Feds “upper bound” of $10.9. Panos Prevedouros would like to add another billion to that.

 

date   September 9, 2016

Finally: A rail project that is worse than ours:

The California High Speed Rail Project (CHSRP) the controversial high-speed rail system that is supposed to connect California's two largest cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, via trains running 220 miles an hour is vying for the dubious honor of being the worst rail project in the nation. We thought we had it in the bag but no more. This Weekly Standard article tells in great detail how this project is affecting the residents who live along the route. There are great similarities, cost overruns, enormous cost and an out of control semi-autonomous agency running things.

Their latest problem is that the voters approved it on the basis that revenues would exceed operating costs. In other words pay for itself, other than construction costs. Then along comes the Los Angeles Times, which having filed a freedom-of-information request, revealed that their equivalent of HART had apparently scrubbed from its website a pessimistic assessment by the Spanish rail-construction contractor Ferrovial that the train would never be able to operate without the taxpayer subsidies that the voter-approved Proposition specifically forbids. The Spanish firm had noted in its bid that of 111 high-speed lines that it had looked at around the world, only 3 were financially viable without government aid. READ MORE

 

date   September 6, 2016

What is the ½ percent rail tax costing you each year?

Here's one way for you to know. It is to calculate what it would take in property taxes to fund rail for every year that the ½ GE tax surcharge would be in place.

Last year the rail tax collected $259 million, while total property tax collections were $894 million. If we were to substitute property tax for the ½ percent GE tax, we would need to collect the $894 billion plus the $259 million, or $1,153 million, which would require a 29 percent increase in the property tax you are now paying for the foreseeable future. Now calculate what a 29 percent increase in your property taxes would be. If your property taxes are now $2,500 annually, you would face a $725 increase.

It gives you some idea of the hidden effects are in the insidious General Excise tax and what it is really costing you. This is why the politicians avoid hiking property taxes and settle for the deceptive G.E. Tax.

By the way, tourists indirectly pay a considerable part of the property taxes in the hotel costs they pay; it is most probably the same 17 percent of property taxes that they pay in GE taxes. And all that is just for construction. Once rail begins operating you can add another $100 million annually.

 

date   September 4, 2016

Two good pieces in today's Star Advertiser:

A great column by David Shapiro, who concludes that:

"So after 10 years of deceit, mismanagement and failure, little has changed; Honolulu rail is being built on politics and melodrama instead of sound engineering and honest accounting.

"Cries to stay the course at any price carry a steep cost for the community.

"Our tax base is only so deep, and billions squandered on rail cost overruns are billions lost for addressing homelessness, massive pension debt, decaying infrastructure and climate change." READ MORE

Law Professor Randy Roth has an excellent letter in which he uses HART's own numbers to show that our lawsuit cost less than one-tenth of one percent of rail's projected cost. READ MORE

 

date   August 29, 2016

The case for stopping rail at the Middle Street Transit Center:

We were remiss in not posting this on May 19 when the Star Advertiser published it. Download it here.

 

date   August 18, 2016

HART CEO Dan Grabaukas quits:

We are sorry to see him go. He was a breath of fresh air compared with his predecessors; he lied far less. One of the definitions of lie as defined by the Free Dictionary is "something meant to deceive." The fact that HART often uses the slogan that rail will take 40,000 cars off he road is a deception meant to convince people that rail will have a major effect on traffic congestion. In fact, as you can see from the table below the 40,000 reduction is in the face of a 500,000 increase in car trips because of population growth. The 40,000 is only 1.4% of the total projected car trips; they will not be even noticed.

 

 

date   August 10, 2016

The purpose of our website and how to use it:

The function our website is to be useful to researchers rather than be part of social media. We have over 100GB of material that includes 40GB of FTA internal emails obtained as part of our lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu.

We have nearly all the legal documents relating to the lawsuit under the "Federal Courts" courts tab. All the state and federal guiding statutes and regulations are under "Process Docs" together with all the  documents relating to the EIS process from start to finish.

At the foot of the column to the left is an archive of  all the entries in this site since November 2004. The single red tab is a media record of the principal media stories 2003-2013.

One of the best ways to use the site is to perform a key word search in the search window combined with the adjacent radio button, "Honolulutraffic.com". You might be surprised at what results from such a search.

 

date   August 9, 2016

The Case for Stopping Rail Dead in its Tracks:

The question we have to ask ourselves is this: A majority of voters supported a $5.3 rail line in 2008. Now a majority oppose what looks like to be a $10 billion project. It appears that we could close out the project now for about a $3.5 billion loss. So the question is this, if you knew back then what you know now, a majority of us would have opposed the $5.3 billion rail project, so why on earth should be support spending $6.5 billion more to finish it. Read the story in full here.

 

date   July 31, 2016

Anti-rail group nominates City for FTA Award of Excellence:

Randy Roth, Cliff Slater, & Panos Prevedours nominate the City of Honolulu (City) and Honolulu Authority Rapid Transportation (HART) for the following, barely believable feats:

1.  Against all odds and at a time of record federal deficits and a slumping local economy, the City and HART somehow managed to extract and divert more than $5 billion in local funds (the upper range of which is still a mystery) and garner FTA support for $1.55 billion in federal funds – all to build an elevated heavy rail system that was out-of-date before construction even began (Antiquated Rail System)!

That's how it starts and to read the whole detailed two pages of the City's "incredible feats" read the pdf file.

 

 

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