Three out of four Hawaii voters say they either feel that Oahu’s rail project is a bad idea, or that they are troubled by how it’s progressing.

A mere 16 percent of voters say they feel good about the $6.6 billion project, one marked by revenue shortages, construction delays and costs overruns.

And just 7 percent say they are unsure about how they feel, a figure that drops to 3 percent on Oahu exclusively. By now, it seems, most people have made up their minds when it comes to the controversial rail line.

Honolulu's rail line may be inching every closer to town, but support for the project is shrinking, says a new Civil Beat poll.
Honolulu’s rail line may be inching ever closer to town, but support for the project is shrinking, says a new Civil Beat poll. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The new Civil Beat Poll comes just as Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has signed into law a bill that extends until 2027 a 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge that pays for rail.

The construction that began in east Kapolei near the Kroc Center is approaching the six-mile mark on its way to a scheduled 20-mile completion at Ala Moana Center in 2021.

Forty-two percent of respondents to the latest poll said they supported rail before construction began in 2011, slightly less than those who said they initially opposed it.

“You are certainly seeing a fair level right now of buyer’s remorse, because there is a disruption without a benefit,” said Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, which conducted The Civil Beat Poll. “I think that’s pretty normal for a big public works project.”

Rail progress civil beat poll

Rail has never polled very well in Civil Beat surveys.

In March 2012, for example, 55 percent of likely Oahu voters said they were against what was then a $5.2 billion undertaking.

Last April, a majority of Oahu voters opposed what was then a $6 billion venture.

For the latest poll, Civil Beat surveyed 922 registered voters statewide Jan. 26-29.

2011 rail feelings civil beat poll

The poll sampled 70 percent landlines and 30 percent cellphones, and had a margin of error of 3.2 percent. It included 614 registered Oahu voters, and the margin of error for that group was 4 percent.

There was little variation in the survey when it came to the age, race and ethnicity or gender of voters.

The opposition is a little milder from voters on the neighbor islands, who are not paying for rail. Liberals were more inclined to support the rail line, conservatives less so.

Coming Monday: How do Hawaii voters feel about police misconduct and greater government oversight of cops?

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