Transit forums to search for environmental concerns
The city wants to hear from the public beginning tonight about any environmental, social or economic impacts along the city's proposed mass transit route.
Three meetings are scheduled as the city begins the process to conduct an environmental impact study of the multibillion-dollar project.
The first is scheduled today at Kapolei Hale at 6 p.m.; the second is scheduled for tomorrow at the McKinley High School cafeteria, at 5 p.m.
Last night, a third meeting was added for April 4 at the Aliamanu Middle School cafeteria in Salt Lake, at 6 p.m.
"The scoping meetings are designed to address environmental concerns or information that members of the public may have and want to share with us," city spokesman Bill Brennan said.
But advocates who want the transit route changed so that it runs to Honolulu Airport or the University of Hawaii at Manoa are encouraging the public to come out to testify because the comments could possibly lead to changes.
"Very important," Councilman Charles Djou said about the upcoming meetings. "It's another opportunity to show that including the University of Hawaii and the airport are necessary to making any kind of mass transit work."
"If there is a trend in what the public is saying, I think the (Federal Transit Administration) is going to ask the city to redo the route," said Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz, who added that he is asking city officials for two more meetings in Central and Windward Oahu. "Come out to the meetings. Write letters of testimony," he said.
The meetings are part of the required steps that the city must go through to qualify for federal funding, Brennan said: "It's another time we're required to involve the public."
Brennan said that while it's "doubtful" that public comments could change the route outright, the comments could lead to the city to take a second look at different alignments.
Some of the examples he cited include the route running through property with contaminated waste or an ancestral burial ground.
"That's the kind of information that we're looking for. That's the kind of information that would be helpful," Brennan said. "Those kinds of things would be reviewed, yes."
Proponents of managed lanes or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes were to demonstrate today in front of City Hall to protest the process.
Rail transit critic Cliff Slater said the city has not given HOT lanes a fair shake and wants the city to include them as a transit alternative in the EIS process.
"This thing is rigged; this thing is a setup. It's so grossly unfair," Slater said.
Brennan said the city studied managed lanes as an option, but the Council voted for a fixed guideway.