City & County of Honolulu

City Council OKs
Bus Rapid Transit plan

Special vehicles would run
between Iwilei and Waikiki

Council overrides 2 vetoes
Cachola lashes colleagues

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The administration of Mayor Jeremy Harris has won a critical vote for the $67 million first phase of an in-town Bus Rapid Transit project, designed to force people out of their cars and into mass-commuter vehicles.

The City Council voted 8-1 yesterday to approve a Development Plan amendment that allows the phase from Iwilei to Waikiki to be built.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who cited concerns raised by her Manoa-Makiki-Ala Moana community, was the sole dissenting vote.

Testimony was mixed. Hawaii Pacific University students praised the project for offering an alternative mode of transportation for Oahu residents.

Opponents such as community activist Michelle Matson reminded Council members that state transportation officials have warned that it could make travel worse for motorists in certain areas of town.

Councilman Duke Bainum, who has led the Transportation Committee for the last several years, said the Bus Rapid Transit project likely will rank among the most significant acts of legislation passed during his two terms in office.

"We can complain about traffic, or we can move ahead and take a chance," Bainum said.

The plan is "not perfect," he said, "but certainly better than anything that's been proposed before."

Many motorists today may be turned off with the plan, but it "will change the habits of the next generation," said Councilman Jon Yoshimura. "It will come of age not tomorrow, but in the future."

The first phase will run from a transit station near Aala Park in Iwilei to the Kapahulu Avenue end of Waikiki.

City officials say it will take about 22 minutes for a ride from Iwilei to Kapahulu, running along primarily Nimitz Highway, Ala Moana and Kalakaua Avenue and making just eight stops.

About 1.1 miles of the route will have "exclusive" Bus Rapid Transit lanes; 2.8 miles will be "semi-exclusive" and be shared among BRT, private and public buses and motorists making right turns; and 1.7 miles will be "mixed use" where BRT will share lanes with all other traffic.

The Council has already approved a request to issue bonds for $35 million for the first phase.

The federal government has committed $12 million and is expected to bankroll the remaining $20 million next year, according to Transportation Services Director Cheryl Soon.

The city has yet to settle on a technology for the vehicles.

City & County of Honolulu


Council overrides
2 vetoes by Harris

Star-Bulletin staff

City Council members voted yesterday to override line-item vetoes made by Mayor Jeremy Harris on two key provisions of the city's $455 million capital improvements project budget despite objections raised by Managing Director Ben Lee.

One of the provisos Harris vetoed involved language requiring that a study on alternate sources of waste disposal be completed before the city embark on construction of a scheduled $6 million expansion of HPOWER, the city's waste-to-energy plant.

Lee said the language could delay the start of the HPOWER expansion by as much as eight months and delay final closure of the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill on the Leeward Coast.

The other proviso requires the city to find a private partner to help foot the bill for maintaining a new $3.1 million tennis complex at Central Oahu Regional Park.

Lee said the project could be killed as a result of the proviso.

The count on both override motions was 6-3, with members Darrlyn Bunda, Steve Holmes and Jon Yoshimura objecting.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said it was wrong for the mayor to use line-item vetoes to legislate. Legislating, she said, is the function of the Council.

Kobayashi initially questioned whether Harris was allowed to use his veto powers to delete proviso language inserted by the Council.

City attorneys said that he did.

City & County of Honolulu


Cachola lashes his
colleagues for loss of post

Star-Bulletin staff

Honolulu City Councilman Romy Cachola lashed out at his colleagues yesterday for stripping him of a key leadership post, accusing them of being dishonorable and lacking credibility.

"In retrospect, I have learned that I expected too much using myself as a standard on how business is done," Cachola (D, Kalihi-Moanalua) said in Council chambers just as members were about to boot him as chairman of the powerful Zoning Committee.

He was also taken off the rosters of all committees except two -- the Executive Affairs Committee, which consists of all nine members, and the lowly Customer Services Committee, which he will now chair.

"Ultimately, my heated words during lively debate may have embarrassed some members, who are concerned about how they are perceived, especially when the cameras are rolling," Cachola said.

Cachola, who spent 16 years in the state Legislature before winning a Council seat in 2000, said, "I find it harder to count votes on the Council, a body of nine members, than in the state House with 51 members."

City & County of Honolulu

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