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Saturday, November 25, 2000

City & County of Honolulu

Rapid transit
takes zigzag path
through town

The transportation chief says
the winding route will allow
for development

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The proposed route of a leg of the city Bus Rapid Transit project calls for it to zigzag from downtown to Ala Moana Park on five different streets in Kakaako.

The route was done that way to accommodate development being considered for the area, according to Cheryl Soon, city director of transportation services.

The Bus Rapid Transit project is part of a $1 billion-plus island-wide scheme by the city to deal with traffic along Oahu's major transit corridor from Kapolei to Waikiki and the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus.

The City Council is expected to approve a resolution supporting the plan at its meeting Wednesday, although a number of other approvals would be necessary before it actually gets under way.

The 11.6-mile in-town Bus Rapid Transit calls for a "high-capacity transit spine" that could involve electric buses powered by tracks on the ground.

Starting at the Middle Street bus station on the Ewa end, it would split into two branches -- Waikiki and UH-Manoa.


Plans call for the Waikiki portion of the town Bus Rapid Transit to go from Hotel Street, down Richards Street, onto Halekauwila Street, down South Street, onto Pohukaina Street, down Kamani Street, onto Auahi Street and then to Ala Moana, where it stays en route to Waikiki.

Some members of the Kakaako Improvement Association said they are scratching their heads over the proposed route and wondering why it doesn't go more on the multi-laned Ala Moana.

But Soon said the route was done in coordination with major landowners Victoria Ward Ltd. and Kamehameha Schools and the state Hawaii Community Development Authority, which oversees land use in Kakaako.

The key consideration, she said, "is taking us through a district that is slated for redevelopment."

Kamehameha Schools is eyeing a housing development along Pohukaina in the vicinity of Mother Waldron Park, Soon said. Meanwhile, new commercial development is slated by Victoria Ward for Auahi, including an entertainment center near Kamakee Street.

Jan Yokota, executive director for the Hawaii Community Development Authority, said her agency advocated that the route go mauka of Ala Moana. "We had preferred it would go through the mauka section so that we could place residential developments near the lines," Yokota said.

Bev Harbin, president of the Kakaako Improvement Association, said the city should be giving more consideration toward placing the route along Ala Moana to accommodate potential development makai of the boulevard.

The state has begun a major push toward placing a marine science education center near Kakaako Waterfront Park.

And in recent days, Gov. Ben Cayetano has talked about seeking legislative funding this year to start planning the relocation of the UH medical school on 12 acres in Kakaako.

Dick Hagstrom of Omni Investment Group, which manages property in the area, said it would make sense to send the route along more of Ala Moana, where a natural median exists.

"It seems like a real circuitous route going through Kakaako," Hagstrom said.

Soon acknowledged that the recent push toward development makai of Ala Moana might warrant a second look. And she emphasized the Council's approval of a route next week would not preclude changes later.

City & County of Honolulu

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