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Rail Transit Project Breaks Ground In Kapolei

February 23, 2011

Hawaii's top elected officials lined up to kick off Oahu's rail transit project.

Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, together with Mayor Peter Carlisle, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Lt. Governor Brian Schatz, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, and a host of State Legislators and City Councilmen stood side by side and poked their o’o into the soil of Kapolei. Oahu’s long awaited, and largest transportation project was officially underway.

Governor Abercrombie was giving testimony at the Capitol on his proposed budget and sent his regrets.

This morning’s ground breaking ceremony for the City’s rail transit project, attracted over 500 attendees along Kaulakai Parkway in Kapolei. It also was attended by a small group of protesters led by twice-failed mayoral candidate Panos Prevedouros.

“Today is a celebration: the beginning of a project that will change how we travel, work, play and live.” said Mayor Carlisle. During his brief speech Carlisle invoked the old Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song; It’s been a Long Time Coming, punctuated with a heartfelt, “Hallelujah!”

The upbeat spirit was continued by Senator Inouye and others, and eventually led up to the ceremonial earth turning with the traditional o’o. This was followed by informal contradulatory conversations among the attendees and hosted refreshments.

The $5.5 billion transit project is a 20-mile elevated rail system connecting East Kapolei with Ala Moana Center. It includes 21 stations in communities including Waipahu, Pearl City, Aiea, Kalihi, Chinatown, Downtown Honolulu, and Kakaako. There will also be stations at activity centers such as UH-West Oahu, Leeward Community College, Pearl Highlands, Pearlridge, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu International Airport, and Honolulu Community College.

The protesters could be heard occasionally from their location on the other side of the highway as they attempted to interrupt the various speakers. Shouts of “you’re in their pockets” and “alternative technology” sprung from people carrying contradictory signs that said “Do Rail Right,” right next to one that said, “No To Rail.”

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