Altered airport spur would cost much less than $350M
Salt Lake's residents and community leaders are very pleased with recent events of the past few weeks, which include:
» the mayor's state-funded proposal for a spur that would service the airport;
» efforts by the city to plan for an airport spur that is both affordable and practical;
» the mayor's commitment that Salt Lake Boulevard remains priority one to link the 20-mile minimum operable segment (MOS) from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.
As Council member of the district, I also support the airport spur because it is an ideal opportunity for the city to partner with the state, which owns the airport. According to the city administration, the 2.1-mile spur would cost $350 million and be paid for by either the airport special fund or a portion of the 10 percent fee that the state withholds for collecting the general excise tax.
Tapping into these funds seems difficult, since there is a perceived resistance from the state administration and the Legislature to fund this proposed airport spur.
Knowing their sentiments and in the spirit of cooperation with the state and the Legislature, I would like to offer a friendly suggestion. If at all possible, rather than construct the 2.1-mile spur from the airport to Middle Street, why not connect the airport to the nearest transit station on Salt Lake Boulevard at Ala Lilikoi Street, which would be about 1 mile long? This shorter spur could very well cut construction costs in half and cost the state between $150 million to $175 million, rather than the entire $350 million airport-to-Middle Street spur.
The bottom line is that a shorter airport spur to Ala Lilikoi would be more acceptable to the state administration and the Legislature because it would cost way less and still service the airport.
Also, just recently, we were all encouraged to see private landowner HRPT Properties Trust offering to assist the city by providing land and spending its own money to build a passenger station in Mapunapuna. If the private sector is willing to step up to the plate, how much more for the state, which owns the airport?
Therefore, I urge state officials to carefully consider the benefits of partnering with the city for the construction of:
» a proposed transit station at the airport, and ensure that it be built as close as possible to the passenger terminals;
» an airport spur to Salt Lake Boulevard, which would dovetail quite nicely into its current billion-dollar airport modernization plan.
The state has a vested interest in improving services at the airport for visitors, local travelers and workers. This 1-mile airport-to-Salt Lake Boulevard spur, which saves taxpayer money, is a win-win solution, which I believe is fair and more acceptable to the state administration, the Legislature and taxpayers.
Romy M. Cachola represents District VII (Kalihi-Airport-Salt Lake) on the Honolulu City Council.