Leeward residents sound off on mass transit plan
Leeward Oahu residents raised concerns about the route of the proposed fixed guideway mass transit system, the billions of dollars the project will cost taxpayers and the noise pollution it will generate.
Pearl City resident Ruth Nakasone fears hidden and additional costs, citing the recent revelation that an additional 35 more positions will be needed to staff a transit office at a cost of $4.1 million.
"It's not going to come out of the sky," she said. "It's going to come out of our pockets."
But other residents at a meeting Wednesday night at Kapolei Hale praised the project and its initial route from east Kapolei to Ala Moana Center via Salt Lake.
The city counted 41 who attended last night's meeting, but only nine people gave formal statements. The meeting was to hear the public's views on environmental, social and economic impacts of the proposed fixed guideway system.
The meetings are required for the city to qualify for federal funding.
Kapolei resident Carolyn Ancheta testified her community would like to see the guideway run from Kapolei to the airport, downtown and Waikiki "to support the work force." Although she no longer works, "I feel their pain," she said.
Two women from Makaha and Waianae preferred seeing the alignment bypass Salt Lake and run to the airport instead, where parking already exists. "Poor planning on the part of the Council," the Makaha woman wrote.
An Ewa Beach man said he can no longer support the project, because the current alignment bypasses Ewa Beach and other areas.
"The cost ... is so high, the taxpayer burden so great, that I can only support it if I know it will be useful," he wrote. "Ridership must be maximized by serving Ewa Beach, the airport, Waikiki and the University of Hawaii at Manoa."
A Pearl City woman was concerned about noise pollution, especially where noise levels are already high. A staunch opponent of rail transit in Hawaii, she said the city has not studied alternative forms of mass transit enough. She supports elevated bus lanes. "If they're going to have 600 feeder buses, why can't they have started a bus system earlier?"
Nakasone also was concerned with the guideway's "ugly" look. The system must be high enough to go over the H-1 freeway by the Sears warehouse and power plant in Pearl City. Alvin Yee, a Kapolei-to-downtown bus commuter, said, "If it's faster and more comfortable than the bus, I'd prefer it. Sure hate to pay for it, though."