Public Apathy “Promotes” Boondoggles

Another H-3?  The Obama Effect on the Rail Vote

by Panos Prevedouros

It is one of the major boosters of the ridiculous Honolulu rail, according to award winning journalist and author John Fund of the Wall Street Journal. He spoke about it yesterday at the 36th annual Business and Investment Conference organized by Smart Business Hawaii at the Ala Moana Hotel.Cost is ridiculous, environmental impact is horrendous and federal monies are no more. Yet Honolulu rail rolls along. Why?Because too few local citizens participate in protests, contact and pressure elected officials, contribute money and time, etc., etc. He also acknowledged that in most cases major successes are achieved by a few, so those of us really working on stopping the rail are not the exception.So, I say, if rail happens Abe Lincoln will be correct one more time. In a moment of disappointment Abe said “People get who (or what) they deserve.”

John also quoted past Mayor Mufi Hannemann who after the marginal 50.6% “yes to steel on steel rail” vote proclaimed that “this is not going to be another H-3.” Yet as you know from my previous posts the cost of rail was predicted in late 2010 to be at least 40% higher compared with the cost estimates during 2008 campaign. Project construction is 3.5 years late.Rail has already faced one lawsuit in state court on Hawaiian issues and is facing a major one in federal court for NEPA violations. But this is only the beginning. There will be lawsuits for illegal agricultural land conversions and usage. Noise impacts in the proximity of HUD financed homes and apartments because rail noise violates HUD night time noise levels. A challenge for the misuse of TheBus funds to sore-up TheRail finances is also in consideration. And of course dozens of eminent domain lawsuits.

H-3 was built in the middle of nowhere, whereas rail steps on the toes of thousands of citizens. We have not seen anything yet in terms of legal challenges.

THE 2008 ELECTIONS OBAMA EFFECT ON RAIL. John Fund provided statistical evidence that in the 2008 election “island son” presidential candidate Barrack Obama drew thousands of new voters in the polls particularly younger ones who overwhelmingly voted in favor of rail. (I add that I have noted this attitude in young people. Rail is a government project for their future which will cost them next to nothing because it is the government’s monies and not theirs…) John argued that if there was a more typical election without the prominent “Obama effect” in the local polls, the rail question would have been a solid No.

Panos Prevedouros’ blog, which is from where this has been reposted (with permission), can be found at ://fixoahu.blogspot.com/

Panos D. Prevedouros, Ph.D. is a professor of traffic and transportation engineering at the Department of Civil Engineering, Univ. of Hawaii-Manoa since 1990. Panos graduated from the Aristotle Univ. of Greece in 1984, and with Masters and PhD degrees in 1990 from Northwestern Univ. (Evanston, IL), a leading academic institution in engineering and transportation. He chairs the Freeway Simulation Subcommittee of the Transportation Research Board. He was president of the Hawaii Highway Users Alliance from 2006 to 2008. Panos co-authored a Transportation Engineering textbook and over 100 reports and technical papers. He received the 2005 Van Wagoner Award of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. He co-organized the 1st International Symposium on Freeway Operations (ISFO) in Athens, Greece, and the 2nd ISFO in Honolulu in June 2009. Dr. Prevedouros served in the Transit Advisory Task Force in 2006 and in the Technology Selection Expert Panel in 2008 of the City Council of Honolulu. He ran for mayor of Honolulu in the 2008 elections and finished 3rd in the primary elections with 18% of the vote from a field of nine candidates.

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