Pearl Kai merchants dread rail closure - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Pearl Kai merchants dread rail closure

Pearl Kai merchants dread rail closure Pearl Kai merchants dread rail closure
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PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Powerhouse Gym has 4,000 members. Owner Dave Leong estimates a third of them -- and one-third of Pearl Kai Shopping Center's customers -- make the left turn at Kamehameha Highway and Pali Momi Street to enter the mall.

"That's the only left-hand turn going west into this shopping complex," he said.

Pearl Kai merchants were livid when they learned rail work would permanently remove the left turn. On Monday, HART told them the closure will instead be temporary, for six months. Leong still expects a significant impact.

"Guaranty it's going to hurt us. If it's not convenient. If it's not easy access, (customers) will go someplace else," he said.

"I'm going to lose drive-by customers. A lot of them," said David Passmore, owner of Suntime Indoor Tanning salon.

The closure is so rail contractor Kiewit can safely work on the rail line. 

"It is going to be an impact to businesses. These small businesses here rely on that access, even for short periods of time," said Brennon Morioka, deputy executive director for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

During construction, customers will have to make a U-turn one block down or enter the mall from a residential street.

"The only other entrance is to go down to Lipoa Place, then turn left, then come through the back of the shopping center," Passmore said.

That raises concerns with residents on Lipoa.

"I work early in the morning. Try to get my sleep and I'm going to be hearing a lot of cars zooming through," Ivan Felix said.

Morioka said the six months is still preliminary based on the contractor's plans.

"We will work with them and we'll have contractors meet with the business owners to see how we can skinny down some of those construction periods," he said.

"We're hoping that they can shorten that from six months to maybe three months. But it's still going to hurt," Leong said.

HART said the left turn lane will probably be closed beginning early next year. The work could last through the summer.

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