Wal-Mart can find its way around traffic
A neighborhood board has voted against a new store proposed for Kapolei.
PLANS by Wal-Mart to open a store at a busy intersection in Kapolei have run into a storm of opposition.
Adversaries are focused on traffic congestion, but the company's ruthless reputation is an underlying concern. That reputation has not blocked the opening of seven Wal-Marts in Hawaii and should not stand in the way of a Kapolei outlet.
Opponents held signs last week along Makakilo Drive next to the vacant 24 acres at Farrington Highway and persuaded the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Neighborhood Board to vote against the development. Opposition leader Carolyn Golojuch warns of an "unprecedented traffic nightmare" that would result from a Wal-Mart store at that location.
Wal-Mart has said it plans to open the store only after scheduled traffic improvements are made in 2008. Spokesman Kevin McCall said the company recognizes that "traffic is our predominant issue of concern and it needs to be addressed."
The deal between Campbell Estate, owner of the commercially zoned land, and Wal-Mart's developer has yet to be completed, and city approval is needed for Wal-Mart's designs to reach fruition. Traffic should be foremost among the issues to be addressed.
Wal-Mart has been tarnished for locking overnight employees inside its stores, allowing its maintenance contractors to hire illegal immigrants as janitors and being overly frugal in wages and health benefits. It has fought attempts by labor unions to organize its employees, shutting down a Canadian store after employees voted last year to unionize.
If people are disturbed by Wal-Mart's reputation, they are free to buy merchandise elsewhere. However, most shoppers are cognizant that its practices, including price pressure on its suppliers, have created efficiency resulting in low prices. That recognition has led to success of the mammoth company, which is savvy enough to know that traffic gridlock does not fit into an equation for profitability.
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