Don’t let politics delay UH-West Oahu again
The UH Board of Regents has revised its plan for construction of a Kapolei campus.
UNIVERSITY of Hawaii regents have delayed by a year their goal for completion of the first buildings for the West Oahu campus at Kapolei
following the Legislature's bungling of financing to begin construction. The university and the Lingle administration should press hard for authorization early in next year's session so building can begin.
Lingle had asked the lawmakers to authorize more than $30 million in construction bonds to start work on the infrastructure for the campus and for residential and commercial development tied to the 500-acre private-public project next to the Kapolei Golf Course. That must include H-1 ramps needed to reduce the burden on the freeway's single westbound exit to Kapolei.
Lawmakers gave no explanation for their failure to approve the measure in this year's session. The Democratic-controlled Legislature apparently was unwilling to allow Lingle to claim credit for the progress as she campaigns for her second term.
The first phase was planned for completion in 2008 but now is set for 2009. It includes infrastructure of roads, sewer, water and electricity as well as four buildings to support an initial student body of about 1,500. It also includes 616 of more than 4,000 homes planned around the 100-acre campus.
UH-West Oahu now offers courses to more than 800 students at the Leeward Community College campus in Pearl City. The new campus is projected as a full-fledged university with a faculty and staff of 660 to offer baccalaureate and masters degree programs to as many as 7,600 students by 2015.
The project is an important ingredient of an ambitious undertaking, which includes a rail transit system, to change Oahu's design by making Kapolei a true second city as well as a college town. Partisan politics should not again get in the way of that progress.
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