Transit blueprints offer a glimpse of changes to come
Honolulu city officials have mapped out proposed routes and stations for a mass transit project.
THE city's unveiling of routes and stations presents a profile of choices
residents will have to make as officials and other influential interests steer Honolulu's mass transit system into place.
The system will stimulate enormous economic and physical changes on Oahu, changes some will find difficult to accept, reluctant to let go of the nostalgic image of an old Honolulu.
In truth, that old Honolulu is long gone, replaced by sprawling suburbs, declining neighborhoods, myriad high rises, commercial structures, diminishing green spaces and horrendous traffic, all supported by a tangled network of roads and freeways.
Just as highways have sparked transformation of the island through the past five decades, so will a transit system alter Honolulu. It is imperative that citizens make their wishes and visions known, to participate actively in the process that will reshape their communities.
Maps city officials released last week display various transit routes running through some of the most heavily populated regions of the island and proposed locations for stations. On paper, the colorful lines and specks don't seem like much, but they represent a course of modifications that could come about.
Hawaiian Homes director Micah Kane and City Councilman Romy Cachola are among those who recognize the significant effects of transit routes and centers.
Kane told the Star-Bulletin's Crystal Kua of his vision for homestead communities where residents can live, work and play without long commutes elsewhere. A transit system is "not just about transportation," Kane said, but can lead the way toward a better quality of life.
In the Kapolei area, where Hawaiian Homes plans several housing and commercial projects, he sees how transit can tow in economic bases that will allow people to find jobs nearby and how young people can catch a train to Leeward Community College and the planned West Oahu campus of the University of Hawaii.
Cachola envisions a revitalized Kalihi, a neighborhood that has seen better times, but has great potential for redevelopment if the transit corridor runs in the vicinity. Oft-overlooked, Kalihi's proximity to downtown makes it a prime area for businesses and residential ventures that could be lured by the transit system.
Of course, there will be conflict as new replaces old. Already, there are some who are voicing fear they will be left out or pushed out by construction of the transit system and the economic development that will certainly follow. There will undoubtedly be growing pains, but the future of urban Honolulu as well as all of Oahu will be charted in the tracks of transit. There's no going back.