Land secured to build Wahiawa bus center
Construction will tap $2 million from federal money earmarked for upgrading services
The city can move forward with its plans to build a Wahiawa bus transit center, now that the state has agreed to lease it land for the facility.
Earlier this month, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources consented to lease about 29,000 square feet of land to be used for a transit center near the Wahiawa Civic Center.
The 44-year lease at a dollar a year was set between the state Department of Accounting and General Services and the city Department of Transportation Services.
Now the city must enter into a memorandum of agreement with the state. The document would then undergo several reviews, including by legal counsel and the city's Budget and Fiscal Services, said James Burke, chief of the city's Public Transit Division.
Burke could not provide a time line as to when construction would start.
The project includes a 58-space parking structure above the transit center for bus riders, staff and customers of the adjacent civic center.
Of more than $9 million in federal cash allocated this year to upgrade bus services, about $2 million will be used for the project's construction.
The project comes at a time when the city is moving toward a fixed guideway system for mass transit. A general excise tax increase to 4.5 from 4 percent goes into effect Monday to support a rail system that could include buses.
At a public hearing for the tax last month, Roger Morton, president of Oahu Transit Services, said the number of buses would not decline when rail is implemented, noting that Honolulu has one of the highest bus utilization percentages of any U.S. city.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he expects both bus and rail to be integrated into one mass transit system, reducing traffic congestion.
The Wahiawa Neighborhood Board has been waiting for years for the transit center, said member Sheri Bentley. She said it has been months since the board was last updated on the project.
"All we ever talk about is how much we want it, and it just takes forever and ever," Bentley said. "We get people coming here from all over the place, and they need to come together in one area so we can get them to where they need to go on time."