HONOLULU (AP) - Despite an unresolved case in federal court, Oahu's planned rail transit project is scheduled for significant construction work in 2014.
The work resumed last fall in the fields of west Oahu after a yearlong court-ordered hiatus. The work has spread east toward town and into more populated areas - Aiea, Pearl City and Waipahu, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.
Oahu residents this year can expect to see almost 200 additional concrete columns erected to ultimately support the elevated rail system. Many of the columns will be along Kamehameha Highway west of Aloha Stadium.
The project's main opponents, meanwhile, criticized the plans to continue construction despite an unresolved lawsuit. The anti-rail group, honolulutraffic.
com, said it is concerned the city is trying to push the project through so it "forces the judges' hands," said Cliff Slater, the organization's chairman. He said he doesn't believe construction will progress enough to achieve that.
A hearing on the anti-rail lawsuit is scheduled Thursday in Honolulu in federal court.
Judges hearing the case have vocally pondered the effect that construction might have in the decision-making process of whether rail on Oahu ultimately gets approved.
Other construction plans this year for the project include installation by summer of the first guideway segments - 50-ton concrete panels that would form a platform for the tracks. Plans call for installing the panels on top of the columns.
Traffic delays and lane and road closures are expected as construction ramps up.
The traffic impacts are expected to last through 2018, as "one step backward," of the project, said Dan Grabauskas, executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. The rail represents "two steps forward" in addressing Oahu's traffic woes, he said.
Half of the planned rail system's 20-mile line is slated to open in 2017. The full system is expected to begin operating in 2019.