HONOLULU (KHON2) — Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced in his State of the City address that the Honolulu Rail will open to the public in July.
“When he said we’re opening in July, there was a gasp in the room,” responded HART officials to Bryce Moore’s interview.
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But, HART officials’ full response was that they are going to work hard to achieve the date promised by Mayor Blangiardi.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi surprised most Oahu residents during his State of the City on Tuesday, March 14 when he said the first segment of the Rail would be operational by July, 2023.
KHON2 spoke with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit and the Department of Transportation Services to see how they will meet the mayor’s goal.
The executive director and CEO of HART said connecting east Kapolei to Aloha Stadium via Rail by July is a goal worth striving for.
“And so when he said in his State of the City address, ‘We’re opening in July,'” Lori Kahikina said with a gasp, “there was a gasp in the room and not just from me and my deputy, Rick, but there really was, ‘Oh my gosh.’ But that’s okay, that’s okay.”
So, I emailed all my HART ohana, there’s about 150 of them, that mayor has put that stake in the ground and let’s make sure that we deliver for him.”Lori Kahikina, HART executive director & CEO
One issue that officials are still working on is the cracks around the T-shaped hammerheads. Kahikina said eight columns along the first segment of the Rail need reinforced rebar to extend their longevity.
“The structural integrity is there, we could have people on those platforms today, but in an abundance of caution,” Kahikina said. “I’m pulling these numbers out of the air, so let’s say the stations and columns are supposed to last 100 years, but right now with the cracks, they may only last 80 years.”
Kahikina expected the rebar work to wrap up by the end of May, 2023. As far as the cost of riding the Rail, Transportation Services said it will be the same fee as Holo Cards on The Bus — and they are interchangeable.
“If you ride, if you tap on rail or even tap on the bus, you have two and a half hours to complete that trip,” said DTS director Roger Morton, “and so no matter how many times you transfer within a two and a half hour period, that’s a free trip.”
Five cars will operate at the same time on the first section of the Rail. Residents near Aloha Stadium are looking forward to climbing aboard.
“I might, because it’d be quicker! If I got to go work down Kapolei side, use the Rail, cause the bus take forever,” said Halawa resident Kela Ayau.
Morton added that adjustments are coming for bus routes along the section of the Rail that is scheduled to open in July. KHON2 asked DTS if those changes would be giant, or more like a bunch of smaller changes.
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“It’s a bunch of little changes,” Morton said, “now when we get Downtown, it’ll be giant changes. But that’s a few years out, so we’ll worry about that when we get to Downtown.”