HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents in the Chinatown area are expected to be frequent users of the train because many don't have cars. The City studied Chinatown and found that 64 percent of the people who live in the area don't have a vehicle.
The Chinatown station will be on the mauka side of Nimitz Highway between River and Kekaulike Streets. The City has already purchased some buildings and parking lot which will be torn down, but other features that make Chinatown what it is will stay in place.
"This is a fantastic community. It's the oldest Chinatown in America. This is where people when they first immigrated from China they came here first. This is a historic, beautiful, vibrant community that is very proud of its identity and we don't want to change that," said Jun Yang, Honolulu Office of Housing Executive Director. "We already know this is an area people do a lot of walking. Already people are walking home. They have produce in their hand. They're going to be taking the bus. What we're providing is another access for our local families that live in the area here to go to work and come back. Also for our local families to come from out of the area to come and be able to enjoy such a wonderful place."
Among the possible changes would be to extend the Kekaulike Mall all the way to the rail station to make it easier for pedestrians. It would also limit truck loading to only certain hours of the day. The city will do a "design exercise" study on that next year.
There are six City owned housing properties in the vicinity. Still homeless have been staying outside of the boarded up buildings overnight which will be another issue that will need to be addressed before the rail opens in 2019.