2 regions want rail extensions
Service to UH-Manoa and Salt Lake would benefit ridership, supporters contend
University of Hawaii at Manoa students and Salt Lake residents tried to persuade two City Council committees yesterday to include service to their areas in the city's first rail transit segment.
"(Students) won't use the system if it stops at Ala Moana (Center)," said Grant Teichman, UH-Manoa student government president. "If there isn't enough ridership on the first segment, it's not going to go anywhere and it's certainly not going to go to the university."
"This is about revenues, which can be received with the Salt Lake alignment," said Tom Strout, a member of the Aliamanu/Salt Lake/Foster Village Neighborhood Board.
But those who support Mayor Mufi Hannemann's recommendation that the first segment run from the proposed UH-West Oahu campus in East Kapolei* to Ala Moana Center say that deviating from that route could ultimately kill the project.
"The bottom line is, do we want this rail system or don't we want this rail system?" Councilman Gary Okino said. "Without starting with this (recommended segment), we got nothing."
Maeda Timson, chairwoman of the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board, said that even though the route will not go to West Kapolei in the near future, "We're compromising. And we're saying, 'OK, we will accept it and we know it will be a good thing for this community, for this island and it's going to expand.' "
The Transportation and Budget Committees voted 4-2 to approve the mayor's 20-mile, $3.6 billion recommended minimal operable segment.
Councilmen Charles Djou and Donovan Dela Cruz supported including UH-Manoa in the first phase and voted against the mayor's proposal. They wanted a route farther east, starting from Leeward Community College and going to Manoa.
However, they did not offer an amendment for a different route.
"I didn't have the votes because I think the committee was stacked," Djou said after the meeting.
Councilman Romy Cachola, who is not a member of either committee, led the charge yesterday for the Salt Lake Boulevard route, which is in his district, instead of the recommended path passing Pearl Harbor, Hickam Air Force Base and the airport.
All three members said they are not ready to give up yet, anticipating a big fight when the entire Council takes a final vote Feb. 21.
The recommended initial segment, city officials said, is the most cost-effective route under federal criteria and also a route that could bring the optimum level of much-needed federal funding for construction.
Changing the first phase to end at UH-Manoa, however, would jeopardize that. "We cannot recommend this alignment. ... It means we're not likely to be recommended for federal funding," said Toru Hamayasu, the city's chief transit planner.
Hamayasu also said that while the Salt Lake alignment meets the criteria for federal funding, the airport route has more projected riders.
Friday, February 16, 2007
» Mayor Mufi Hannemann's recommended first rail transit segment will run from the University of Hawaii's proposed West Oahu College campus in East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. A story on Page A3 Wednesday gave incorrect locator information for one end of the route.