City produces good rail transit options
The city administration has produced a plan for rail transit on Oahu that reduces recommended route alternatives.
CITY PLANNERS have completed preparation
of alternative routes for a rapid rail transit system to be decided upon by the City Council by the end of this year. Unveiled to the Council last week, the plan is more expensive than estimated earlier this year but should excite commuters who now spend too many hours on the H-1 freeway between Kapolei and downtown.
The city's timetable for the system is ambitious: groundbreaking in 2009, open for business in 2012 and fully operating in another five years or so. During and after that period, the city and state will need to find other ways to reduce traffic congestion; rail transit is not a panacea.
City officials displayed various transit routes and proposed stations three months ago, and those have been narrowed down, leaving various factors to be considered. For example, building the line from Kapolei to Waipahu would be more direct and least expensive along Farrington Highway, but dipping south, then east and turning north in the area of the Geiger Road-Fort Weaver Road intersection would lure more riders.
From there, the preferable route would go along Farrington to Aiea, continue along H-1, perhaps turning into Honolulu Airport, follow Dillingham Avenue, go underground through downtown, surface at Kapiolani Boulevard, continue to Ala Moana Shopping Center and then turn mauka to the final destination, the University of Hawaii-Manoa.
The final leg may be the most controversial because of the size of the concrete pathway, as high as 60 feet where it would leap over H-1. "Why does it have to be so ugly?" City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi remarked about an artist's rendering of the plan along University Avenue.
It will be neither pretty nor cheap; the construction cost estimate has increased from $2.6 billion earlier this year to $3 billion. But rail transit is desperately needed to keep the quality of life on Oahu from going south.
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