A proposed fixed rail system at University Avenue and Beretania Street, looking makai, above, is shown in an artist's rendering. CLICK FOR LARGE
Many minds made up on transit
About 180 people attend a briefing on proposed alternatives
Many had their minds made up for or against a rail system before attending last night's transit informational meeting at Honolulu Hale.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann made it clear he supported it, and that had at least one resident worried.
"I'm just concerned the mayor seems like his mind is made up," said Moiliili resident Lydi Morgan after the meeting. "I'm just concerned that the four alternatives haven't been given equal opportunity."
Morgan, who bikes daily to work in downtown Honolulu, said she would like to see "a bike lane be seriously considered."
Last night's second informational meeting drew about 180 people who looked at informational displays, listened to a presentation by the mayor and project consultant Mark Scheibe of Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas, and participated in a question-and-answer session. A third meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. tomorrow at Aliamanu Middle School cafeteria.
The line, from Kapolei to UH-Manoa, would also stop at Honolulu Community College. A project consultant promised last night that the complete cost estimate for the project, including the right-of-way purchases, would be completed by the end of the year. Construction alone would be $3 billion. CLICK FOR LARGE
But the mayor told the audience public comment should be reserved until public hearings, which will be held in November and December.
That did not stop people from sharing their opinions about the rail proposal that could cost about $3 billion.
"To me it's too costly versus the benefits," one woman said.
Others spoke in favor of a rail system.
One woman wondered whether supporting a rail system necessarily means having to accept 60- to 70-foot-high elevated rail platforms, such as the one proposed to go over the H-1 freeway to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Another resident asked when the actual total costs of a rail system, including that of eminent domain, would be made public. Scheibe said that would come at the end of the year.
What about mauka-makai routes? another man asked, since plans centered on the 23-mile rail line from Kapolei to the University of Hawaii.
The mayor answered that the focus needs to be on building the main line, then on the buses and park-and-ride facilities. But he promised not to run rail into neighborhoods.
Like the mayor, Moiliili resident Lance Kaneshiro, who works in town, had his mind made up before the meeting. "I'm for it," he said. "I'd use it. ... They should have done it 10 years ago. Now it's going to cost twice as much."
Palolo resident Mark Bauman, who has worked as a tour guide for 15 years from Waikiki to Ko Olina, said, "It's a great way to get from one end of the island to the other." he said. "You're not sitting in the car all day."
Waikiki resident Helen Carroll, who opposes a rail system, said, "One thing that really, really disturbs me is going down Kuhio. That's going to totally destroy our tourism there. The noise for people who live in high-rise condos will be unbearable to them."
"Can you imagine building over Kuhio, and people are going to be walking under the trains?"