Concrete Columns Cracked


The first phase of the Honolulu rail transit system is supposed to open at the end of this year, with trains serving nine of the planned 21 stations. But those plans may be put on hold because contractors have discovered cracks in the concrete pillars holding up the elevated stations. Due to these cracks, the consultants have “advised that passengers not be allowed into the seven affected stations until further inspections are done.”

That leaves just two stations that might open later this year. Most likely, none will open at all. What is known for sure is that the cracks are growing.

This is just the latest in a long line of snafus over the Honolulu transit project. These include wheels that turned out to be too narrow for the rails they are to run on, electric power that is likely to disrupt nearby homes and businesses, and a 140 percent cost overrun. Current plans call for the project to be finished a mere 11 years late, but that’s optimistic.

If this project were competently run, it would have opened by now at less than half the cost. As it is, it may never open. Even after spending $12 billion, it would probably be better for taxpayers if it didn’t as operating losses (including the cost of electricity) are likely to be well over $100 million a year.

This piece first appeared at The Antiplanner.

Randal O'Toole, the Antiplanner, is a policy analyst with nearly 50 years of experience reviewing transportation and land-use plans and the author of The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future.

Photo: The Honolulu rail project was idiotically designed to be entirely elevated, creating problems both with scenic views and differential settling in swampy land.

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by governance standards, down there near Mississippi.