By OSKAR GARCIA
HONOLULU — Former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano is proposing a $1.1 billion plan to add express buses and contraflow lanes as an alternate solution to a $5 billion rail line to ease traffic on Oahu.
The mayoral candidate announced the plan Thursday at a news conference held at a car dealership near Honolulu’s airport. Cayetano entered the race to oppose the rail’s construction and the campaign has become a referendum on the project which has split voters and drawn passion from many on both sides.
Cayetano wants contraflow and dedicated express bus lanes on King Street and Dillingham Boulevard. He would also add traffic lanes on King Street and Nimitz Highway. His plan includes an elevated roadway that allows for express traffic over a portion of Nimitz Highway into downtown and short roadways in urban Honolulu to allow drivers to bypass intersections. He said the price-tag represents the combined costs between city, state and federal governments, but he had no breakdown for how that would be split.
The plan is being dubbed “FAST,” an acronym for flexible, affordable, smart transportation, which Cayetano claims would reduce Oahu’s commuting time from the current average of 292 minutes to 20 minutes.
“Unlike heavy rail which will take 10 or more years to complete, Honolulu commuters will see traffic congestion reduced by our FAST program within six months,” he said.
He noted that rapid bus transportation has been effective in Minnesota and Los Angeles, along with cities in countries including China, Brazil and Canada.
Cayetano faces former Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell in the Nov. 6 election. Incumbent Mayor Peter Carlisle was ousted in the August primary.