West Oahu residents take issue with transit
About 50 residents of West Oahu questioned Mayor Mufi Hannemann Monday night about the proposed steel rail technology for Honolulu's mass-transit system, saying the $3.8 billion rail system would end up costing more.
Other informational meetings on the proposed rail system. All meetings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.:
» Tomorrow: Alvah Scott Elementary School cafeteria.
» Monday: Farrington High School library.
» Tuesday: Waipahu Elementary School cafeteria.
Richard Hanson, a 59-year-old fisherman who works out of Pier 37, said prior to the informational meeting that he was concerned about the costs, including maintenance and how the city would obtain some parcels of land. He also said it should service the airport and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"It's not going to solve the traffic problems," he said. "I'm not an expert, but I don't think the mayor is either."
"I think people should vote on this rather than having them reach into my pocket," he said. "Every tax they hoist upon me, I have to pay. I can't pass it along."
The proposed system would start in Kapolei, go through Salt Lake and end at Ala Moana Center.
Hannemann said Monday night at the meeting at Kapolei Middle School -- the first of four meetings -- that he wants environmental impact statement approval and also to break ground next year.
Members of the city Independent Technology Selection Panel selected the system that uses steel wheels on steel rails, rejecting monorail, magnetic levitation and rubber tires on concrete for its fixed-rail system.
One man raised the question of whether magnetic levitation technology could be used instead because it's quieter and because he thought it was the best technology available.
But a city engineer explained that the technology is too new and unproven for city and federal authorities to feel comfortable with, there were proprietary concerns and that there were few magnetic levitation bidders compared with 10 for steel rail.
Cynthia Spencer of Kapolei, who sells textbooks to colleges, said prior to the meeting, "This doesn't help me because it doesn't go to the colleges."
Another Kapolei resident, Chontel Taala, 27, said prior to the meeting that she's lived in Chicago and that the rail system was fine for that city, but doesn't think it will solve the traffic problems for Hawaii.
"It doesn't make sense for Hawaii," she said. Taala, a mother, would prefer seeing $3.8 billion used for education.
One woman asked about noise. The city's engineer said that a rubber ring inside the steel wheel would keep the noise down, and that from 50 feet away it is quieter than city buses.
Chris Pierce, 33, said prior to the meeting, "I don't think I'm going to use it. ... But I'm going to end up paying for it." Pierce lives in Makakilo and works in Kunia.
Hannemann said he's been asked, "What's the rush? Is it all part of election-year strategy?"
He said, "To relegate the west side to traffic gridlock is unfair and unacceptable," which received soft applause.
"This is why we are so bullish about doing this quickly," he said.