Mayor wants 20-mile rail line to Ala Moana
Hannemann's initial transit segment would start in East Kapolei and cost $3.8 billion
Mayor Mufi Hannemann wants the city to build a $3.8 billion 20-mile rail line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center as its first mass transit segment.
"We have kept in mind that we want to serve a populace area, a major employment center. We also wanted to have this line where we would carry the most future riders and would best meet what the (federal government) calls the cost -effectiveness criterion," Hannemann said yesterday.
The initial line -- called the minimal operable segment -- will begin at the future site of the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center just above Kapolei Parkway in Ewa and move up the proposed North-South Road to Farrington Highway.
Mayor Hannemann yesterday proposed the city's first mass transit segment:
Where: East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center
Cost: Up to $3.8 billion
Construction start: 2009
Operation: 2012 for a seven- to 10-mile section
The line would wind pass major housing developments planned by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and DR Horton, and the University of Hawaii-West Oahu.
Circulator buses will transfer riders from Ewa, Kapolei and other parts of West Oahu to the rail line.
The line will then run through Waipahu, Pearl City and Aiea before passing Pearl Harbor, Hickam Air Force Base and the airport. It will then go through Kalihi, downtown and Kakaako, and end at the shopping center.
"The (minimal operable segment) says what we can afford to do in the short-term so this is what we call 'the first project,'" Hannemann said.
Last month, the City Council selected a 30-plus mile overall route as its long-term transit goal. That route starts farther west in Kapolei and includes a line through Salt Lake, ending at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with a spur to Waikiki.
"It is my hope and desire to fully build out this system from West Kapolei to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, going into Waikiki and taking advantage of the Salt Lake Boulevard -- that's what I want to do, that's the goal," Hannemann said.
As a result, Hannemann said, the city will include West Kapolei, Salt Lake, Manoa and Waikiki in its upcoming environmental impact analysis as anticipated expansions of the line.
Hannemann said by studying the potential additional sections now, they would be ready to build if additional funding becomes available through the federal government, the one-half percent general excise tax surcharge or private financing.
In the meantime, Hannemann said, the 20-mile line will be built using federal funding and the revenue from the excise tax.
City Councilmembers said the selection of the 20-mile segment was not a surprise, but that doesn't mean they don't have questions and concerns.
Council Chairwoman Barbara Marshall and Councilman Charles Djou continue to doubt the city's transit financial plan.
"Yes, I am skeptical," Marshall said.
"At a certain point in time, you have to show me the money," said Djou, who questions whether the administration can obtain $1 billion in federal funding.
Councilman Todd Apo, who represents Kapolei and Ewa, said he believes that the mayor's proposal will be supported by these communities.
"I think the answer is yes, as long as we lay out a plan as to how the entire system will work together," Apo said.
Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz said he is already hearing concerns from UH-Manoa students who want their school to be part of the first segment.
Hannemann's recommendation settles several debates:
» The so-called yellow line north of Kapolei and Ewa was left out of the planning. The city chose the green line, which runs through Kalaeloa and connects East and West Kapolei.
» The Council left open the possibility for trains or buses. Hannemann has chosen trains, saying busways would be "problematic."
» Instead of choosing between the airport or the Salt Lake alignment, Hannemann said he would like to eventually build both, with an airport station first. The city wants to break ground by 2009, with a seven- to 10-mile section of the 20-mile route operational by the year 2012.
The 20-mile route is expected to be completed by 2017.