Transit villages concept introduced at Honolulu rail meeting - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Transit villages concept introduced at Mayor's 2nd Honolulu rail meeting

Jeremy Liu Jeremy Liu
Noel Mau Noel Mau
Terry Leong Terry Leong
Mufi Hannemann Mufi Hannemann

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu's rail planners are trying to get more people involved in shaping the neighborhoods along the future rail line.

At Farrington High School in Kalihi on Tuesday night, Mayor Mufi Hannemann was asking for ideas..

One of the highlights of the town hall meeting is what's called transit-oriented development (TOD). Among the areas the city is looking at building TOD's is West Loch, Pearlridge and Ala Moana.

A panel of experts, some of whom worked on TOD projects on the mainland, gave insight on the benefits of TOD's.

Renderings showed how they'd look like at the rail stop in Pearlridge Center, near Sumida Farm, at Kaonohi Street in Aiea, and the future University of Hawaii West Oahu Campus in Kapolei.

TOD's are transit villages, designed so that home, work, and play is just a walking distance, or a rail stop away.

Experts say pedestrian-friendly TOD's could save drivers money.

"Maybe {Honolulu residents} can actually just not have two cars, and only have one. That's real dollars in people's pockets," said Jeremy Liu, one of the panel experts.

"I'd use it if it takes me where I need to go but it certainly doesn't replace cars," said Noel Mau, a Kalihi resident.

The concept is widespread on the mainland, but new to Hawaii.

Public reaction was mixed.

"We want to make sure that businesses and residents, it's like a live and work, that we preserve the neighborhoods the way they want it to be," said Mau.

"I used to live in a city where I took rail all the time so that's why I think it's a wonderful idea," said Terry Leong, a Pearl City resident.

Mayor Hannemann says TOD's can be used as a vehicle to bring private sector dollars to Honolulu's $5 billion-plus rail project.

"It's going to motivate investors to look at these areas where there's going to be a critical mass of transit riders and that's why TOD has worked very well on the mainland," said Mayor Hannemann.

The mayor says the Honolulu rail project is just one federal approval away from heading to the governor's desk.

There is a snag - the airport issue still has not been resolved. The Federal Aviation Administration warned the city that the rail route may run too close to the runway protection zone at the Honolulu International Airport.

At Tuesday night's meeting, the Mayor said the issue will soon be resolved, but would not give an exact timeline.


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