Mayor, councilmen clash over rail plans
Hannemann accuses Djou and Dela Cruz of trying to delay rail
Mayor Mufi Hannemann is accusing City Councilmen Charles Djou and Donovan Dela Cruz of trying to slow down plans to build rail transit.
Hannemann said Djou's alternative proposal for an initial mass transit route was actually an attempt to delay rail. He also said Dela Cruz's recent proposal to construct a rail-line extension should have been offered last year and debated with the other rail plans.
"If he (Djou) were a true believer of transit, his criticism would have a little more credibility with us," the mayor said. "But it's clear he's been against this project from its inception, so every time he proposes something new with transit, you've got to look at it and say, 'Hmm, why is he doing this?'"
Hannemann is also calling Dela Cruz's plan to construct a rail-line extension to Central Oahu a "crazy idea" because he said the councilman should have proposed it last year when the Council debated and then approved the city's rail transit plan of a 30-mile route between West Kapolei and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Hannemann is proposing that the city build the first segment of the mass transit line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, a 20-mile route that costs about $3.8 billion.
Djou, however, is planning to introduce an alternate idea, constructing the first segment farther east, starting from Leeward Community College and ending at UH-Manoa.
"We have a responsibility to make sure that we enact prudent legislation, and I just don't think what the mayor has proposed is prudent," said the East Honolulu councilman, who so far has voted against the mayor's transit proposals.
Djou said he still does not see how the city administration can talk about a first segment without including UH-Manoa because traffic increases when the university is in session.
Hannemann reiterated his support to fully build the 30-mile rail line that includes UH-Manoa and that the upcoming environmental impact analysis will study a future segment to the university.
But there are still unresolved issues that need to be addressed before ground is broken for the Manoa segment, the mayor said. Those concerns include whether the rail line will run up or onto campus, landownership issues and whether Manoa residents support rail as much as the UH-Manoa campus does.
Both Djou and Dela Cruz have also criticized the scheduling of a joint hearing on the mayor's proposal before the Council's Budget and Transportation committees, saying the hearing was designed to move the mayor's proposal out of the Council -- which the leaders of both committees deny.
The mayor applauded the joint hearing.
Hannemann also criticized Dela Cruz's idea of planning a spur to Central Oahu. "The spur to Mililani -- that's another crazy idea. Donovan should've brought it up while we were debating the issue. Where was he?"
Dela Cruz said the reason he introduced the proposal now was at the suggestion of members of the city administration. "They said, 'You should do it this way,'" Dela Cruz said.