Airport route in the lead despite procedural delay


POSTED: Friday, November 21, 2008

A City Council committee postponed a decision yesterday to change the city's proposed $5 billion rail transit line to go to the airport instead of Salt Lake.






        The city will accept public comment on a draft environmental impact statement on its proposed $5 billion rail transit system:


» Dec. 6, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Kapolei Hale, 1000 Uluohia St.


» Dec. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Neal Blaisdell Center, Hawaii Suites, 777 Ward Ave.


» Dec. 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Salt Lake District Park, 1159 Ala Lilikoi Place.


» Dec. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Filipino Community Center, 94-428 Mokuola St.


» Dec. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St.


Visit to download a copy of the report and for more information.



A majority of the City Council members still expressed their support for the airport route, but will wait until January when the city finishes receiving public comment on an environmental report of the project.

The public comment period ends on Jan. 7 on the city's massive draft environmental impact statement, which compares the airport and Salt Lake alternatives for the 20-mile elevated route from Kapolei to Ala Moana.

Councilman Nestor Garcia, chairman of the Transportation and Public Works Committee, said the Council will likely take up the issue again after hearing comments on the report.

City Council Chairman Todd Apo and Councilman Charles Djou, who introduced the change, had hoped to move the bill quickly through the City Council for approval to minimize any delay or cost impact. But city Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka testified at the hearing yesterday that an approval in January should not cause any significant effect.

The airport alternative is expected to generate higher ridership, according to the city's report, but will cost about $200 million more in construction. The plan is for the city to eventually build a spur to Salt Lake Boulevard, but not within the first segment.

The city administration has remained unusually hands-off on the proposed airport change. Mayor Mufi Hannemann has long favored the airport alignment, but compromised for the Salt Lake stop to gain the support of Councilman Romy Cachola.

“;We see that the airport alignment does have more benefit,”; Yoshioka said. “;Our position is that we will respect the decision that the Council makes.”;

Apo said the city could be keeping mum for political reasons. The proposal has created an uproar among some Salt Lake residents, including about a half-dozen who testified yesterday in opposition, after an alleged promise Hannemann made to Salt Lake community leaders last year.

“;I find it peculiar that the administration hasn't taken a position,”; Apo said. “;I can make some guesses as to the political reasons why. ... As far as I can see, the best system includes the airport, and as much as the administration is saying, 'This isn't our position,' in the past they have testified to that.”;