Mayor backs 'green' rail route
Mufi Hannemann prefers a rail transit line running from Kapolei to UH
Mayor Mufi Hannemann made a final pitch for a mass transit route to the Ewa plain along the a new North-South Road in Kapolei to UH-Manoa, rather than the route approved by a Council committee last week that would bypass Ewa but could include a possible branch to Waikiki.
On the west end of the Council's route, also known as the "yellow" line, the committee proposed that a fixed guideway system would run parallel to the H-1 freeway from Kapolei.
The yellow route favored by the Council runs from Kapolei via Kamokila Boulevard to Farrington Highway.
The green line, which the mayor supports, would instead head south to Kalaeloa and along Saratoga Avenue and up the planned North-South Road.
The mayor said several major housing and commercial developments are planned along the route, including plans by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, DR Horton, the University of Hawaii's West Oahu campus and the Salvation Army's Kroc Community Center.
"I really believe it would be prudent for the Council to revisit a recommendation that came out of the Transportation Committee last week calling for the yellow route as opposed to the green route," he said.
Hannemann said the yellow line would cost $200 million more than the green line to construct.
Hannemann said he is supporting an amendment being proposed by Councilman Todd Apo that would change the mass transit route to the green line.
Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, a member of the committee who offered the proposal, said that the yellow line also was one of the options discussed in the administration's alternatives study.
"It's not like we picked it out of thin air," she said. "The thing is to get the main line from point A to point B. It's the developers who are interested in the line going down off of that straight line. If the developers want to come in and offer to help build it, maybe we could do both lines at the same time."
Kobayashi said while she understands Ewa residents' concerns about reaching the transit line, there are other communities like Waianae, Mililani and Salt Lake also looking to link up.
"This is not the end of it. It's not like we're building this and that's it and we're not building anymore. This is only the beginning," said.
The committee also supported not specifying "rail" as a choice, but instead designating a more general "fixed guideway" option, which leaves possibility of buses or trains being used on an elevated structure dedicated to mass transit.
The Council also left it up to the mayor to determine whether the transit route would go to the airport or through Salt Lake.
The Council is scheduled to start discussions on the final approval of a mass transit route at 10 a.m. tomorrow.