Take the Train to Waikiki?

A city rail network has been debated for years in Honolulu, but now it seems like the plans may come to fruition.

In a Honolulu courthouse this week, citizens both in favor of and against an elevated railway in the city gathered to make their cases. According to CourthouseNews.com, the $5.3 billion rail project is planned as a 20-mile-long, elevated mass transit system to connect Honolulu's densely populated historic and business districts to Kapolei, a growing suburban area in western Oahu. Of major interest to visitors, other tracks would extend to the tourist area of Waikiki and elsewhere on the 30-mile-wide island.

Opponents claim the city and the FTA exceeded their jurisdiction and violated environmental law by failing to consider any more than two of 75 potential alignments, by selecting steel-on-steel technology, and by failing to conduct legally required historic preservation surveys. Thirty-two historic, waterfront and park sites will reportedly be affected by the development.

Hawaii Reporter notes that the city is still moving forward with the construction of the rail project, issuing the $1.4 billion contract for the rail cars to the Italian based Ansaldo this week and relocating utility lines and grading certain areas along the route. The plaintiffs may have to file an injunction against the city to stop the work on the project.