City looking to alter stream channels for Honolulu rail line

David Penn, UH Environmental Center
David Penn, UH Environmental Center

By Jim Mendoza

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu's proposed rail line will cross over twenty bodies of water and the city will have to alter the channels in four of them. The four are the Waiawa Stream Tributary and the Kapalama, Moanalua and Nuuanu streams.

The city wants to build concrete columns for the rail line close to or within the channels.

David Penn with the University of Hawaii Environmental Center reviewed the city's submittal. He worries altering the Waiawa Tributary could negatively impact native plants and organisms.

"It appears that the station platform will be built directly over the location of the spring. This would block sunlight from getting into the area," he said.

Rail spokesman Scott Ishikawa said the center's concerns have been noted rail planners will work with all agencies involved on the issue.

Penn said the center is also concerned with the timing of the construction at the streams, fearing it would disrupt the migration of native aquatic organisms

"One of the goals is to always try to minimize whatever negative impacts the construction activity might have," he said. "A lot depends on the timing of the life cycle of those organisms."

Ishikawa said the support columns would be built next to existing roadway bridge piers and are not expected to affect stream flow.

He said the rail project will actually improve the Waiawa tributary's water flow with construction of a rock-lined channel. He said alteration plans include re-grading stream banks impacted during construction and restoring native plants along the waters edge.

The Hawaii State Commission on Water Resource Management will discuss the city's permit application at a meeting on Wednesday.

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