Thursday, October 2, 2008

Federal support for rail is tiny -- Rail study cost for Oahu rail is exorbitant

Mufi Hannemman recently “lauded” the federal government’s “support for rail” because of a release of a little less than 30 million dollars in federal matching funds to support 15 rail projects, mostly in the form of rail-related studies and small system upgrades.

Of course 30 million dollars is only enough to build a couple mid-rise dormitories at the UH. But what is most startling here is the cost of studies (paperwork) for Environmental Impact Studies elsewhere. Just a few million dollars as one can see in the list of projects below from the Associated Press, dated September 30, 2008.

In contrast Honolulu spent 10 million dollars for the Alternatives Analysis alone in 2006!

Is it not ridiculous that Honolulu will be expending at least 107 million dollars for rail studies, propaganda and paperwork? (This is for the Mufi rail proposal only, not for all past failed attempts to install 19th century technology on Oahu.) Note that over two thirds of of $107 million comes from collections from the general excise tax.


Passenger rail projects receiving federal matching grants:

ARIZONA: Environmental impact study for rail service between Phoenix and Tucson, $1 million.

CALIFORNIA: Convert 4.5 miles of side track to a second main line on the San Joaquin Corridor, $5 million.

ILLINOIS: Install centralized traffic control and cab signals from Joliet to Mazonia, $1.55 million. Also, install cab signal technology from Mazonia to Ridgeley, $1.85 million.

NEW YORK: Albany Station track and signal improvements, $1.25 million.

OHIO: Feasibility study for startup service of two round trips per day between Cleveland and Columbus, and possibly to Cincinnati, $62,500.

VERMONT: Replace one mile of rail and redeck four bridges on route of state-supported Vermonter, $450,000. Also, rebuild two miles of track on route of state-supported Ethan Allen Express, $581,775.

MAINE: Portland area track improvements, $500,000.

MINNESOTA: Environmental impact study for new service from Minneapolis to Duluth, $1.1 million.

MISSOURI: Construction of one 9,000-foot passing track near California, Mo., and engineering for a second in Knob Noster to be used by the state-supported Mules and Anne Rutledge services, $3.3 million.

VIRGINIA: Construction of third track for passing in Spotsylvania County, $2 million.

WASHINGTON: Engineering, environmental review and right of way acquisition for 1.2-mile segment of Point Defiance Bypass project from Tacoma to Nisqually, $6 million.

WISCONSIN: Install 17.85 miles of continuously welded rail between Milwaukee and the Illinois-Wisconsin state line, replacing the last section of remaining jointed rail on the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor, $5 million. Also, planning for the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, $297,000.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation.