Inouye sure rail project on track


POSTED: Friday, April 02, 2010

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said he believes the city's rail transit project has enough momentum to survive should Mayor Mufi Hannemann decide to leave office two years early and make a run for the governor's office this fall.

Hawaii's senior senator was among the guests yesterday as the city dedicated the first of 20 new hybrid buses bought with $20.4 million in federal stimulus funds.

Inouye praised Hannemann's work with federal officials to get the funding for the new 60-foot buses, which can carry about 100 people, compared with 59 passengers in a regular 40-foot bus being used now.

“;I want to say congratulations to all of you, but this is just the beginning,”; Inouye told a small group of mostly city officials that had gathered for the dedication.

He added, “;I would predict that in not too long you'll be dedicating a speed rail all the way from the Ewa side to Aiea.”;

Speaking to reporters afterward, Inouye said he felt the rail project had gathered enough momentum to survive a change in leadership at City Hall.

“;You can't see everything through,”; he said. “;There are certain projects that go on forever, like transportation. As long as you can start a program on its way, that should suffice.

“;I can assure you that it's got enough momentum right now.”;

Although he has been campaigning and raising money statewide, Hannemann has been coy about saying whether he would enter the governor's race, as many expect. He has said he will make a decision before the state Democratic Party Convention on May 28.

His main Democratic rival in the primary would be former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who has said Hannemann should remain in office to ensure that the rail project moves forward.

Abercrombie's campaign declined comment yesterday.