HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu's rail project is becoming more and more visible as construction proceeds in West Oahu. But it's also becoming that way in Kakaako as residents and officials begin to focus even harder on transit-oriented development.
More than 400 people jammed a TOD symposium at the Neal Blaisdell Center Saturday to talk about how areas downtown will be developed around rail transit stations. They also got to see several proposals on what changes will becoming and were invited to make their own suggestions on what they'd like to have.
"So a lot of what you're seeing out here is different ways that we can work with the streets and public spaces to create gathering places and new bike lanes, like on King Street, bike shares and parklets, the kinds of things that people want," said Harrison Rue of the TOD Honolulu Team.
Participants also talked about lowering Honolulu's dependency on cars. They contend it can be done with development near rail lines.
"That next generation is willing to live in a more dense urban core, not own a car, maybe rent," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "But they want to preserve the outlying lands to keep them open and green forever."
"We can create healthier communities, walkable communities, multi-modal with bike, bus, transit, and less dependency on cars," said developer Stanford Carr.
Safety is another concert. One expert said Honolulu must change its reputation of not being friendly to bicyclists or even pedestrians.
"Hawaii is the state with the highest pedestrians over 65 killed in the U.S. And if we don't make it safe for people over 65 to walk, then the city's not safe for anybody," said Gil Penalosa of the group 8-80 Cities.
There are already signs that the change is underway, including the soon-to-open cycle track on South King Street. Some of those changes may be more welcome for some than the controversial rail project itself.
"I think we can do all of this without the rail, ultimately," said Moiliili resident and bicyclist Roberta Schmitz. "But if the rail is here to stay, we'll do it with it."
More details on the Downtown Neighborhood TOD Plan are available at connecthonolulu.com