West Oahu campus loses rail stop
The elevated system's nearest stop will be a 10- to 15-minute walk away from the campus
The city's elevated mass transit system will not stop at the border of the University of Hawaii at West Oahu as planned earlier.
According to an updated plan, the stop near the campus will be about a 10- to 15-minute walk away at a future residential and commercial development by D.R. Horton-Schuler.
"I thought that was one of the rationales for why the administration wanted to stop in Kapolei," said Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz. "You want to make it as convenient as possible for students. It would make sense for us to service the university."
"From the beginning, (UH) West Oahu did not want a station on the campus," said Toru Hamayasu, the city's deputy transportation director. "As we always said, the alignment could be adjusted. If we change the alignment anyplace else, we're changing the impact. In this case, there's nothing built yet."
At a City Council planning committee meeting yesterday, Councilman Todd Apo, who represents West Oahu, said he was under the impression that the mass transit system would go to the campus. The campus chancellor, Gene Awakuni, was in Washington, D.C., yesterday and could not be reached. A campus spokesperson declined to comment.
Councilman Nestor Garcia said the stop should be close enough to the campus to get students and commuters to ride the system as long as there is some sort of shuttle provided.
In a 2006 plan, the city had proposed a transit station on the border of the campus. Hamayasu said the new stop, which is about 200 to 300 feet away and still could change, would allow the system to turn better and would service future residents living on D.R. Horton-Schuler's Hoopili development.
"We want the transit stops to serve as broad of a population as possible," said Dean Uchida, the company's vice president. "The alignment is up to the city. We're pretty much at the mercy of what the city can do."
Uchida said the firm hopes to build high-density homes around the transit stops and that its master plan depends on the city's final decision on the route and stops.
The City Council decided on the route for the $3.7 billion, 20-mile system from Kapolei to Ala Moana in 2006, however, the alignment could change based on ongoing engineering studies. The project's draft environmental statement, expected in June, will lay out the exact route and transit stops.
Several Council members questioned the changes in the route without notifying them or affected neighborhoods.
"It is my intent to let people know," said Councilman Romy Cachola, who believes the Council should approve changes in the planned route. "If somebody files a lawsuit with the city charging that they didn't know the new route, we would be putting the project in jeopardy."
"The more transparency and the more input from the community, the better," Dela Cruz said. "Behind-closed-door decisions is going to affect the public confidence in the project."