City and state leaders broke ground Wednesday on three West Oahu rail stations.
"We are building this for the next generation ... something they can build upon, they can expand upon," state Rep. Matt LoPresti, who represents Ewa Beach, said at a groundbreaking ceremony.
Construction is set to begin at the Hoopili, University of Hawaii-West Oahu and East Kapolei stations soon, and computer renderings show what the stations will look like when completed.
"These first three rail stations will really set the stage for the economic development that will occur at all of the stations on Oahu,” said state Rep. Sharon Har.
“It's not gonna be just about these stations, it's gonna be about the economic development and the businesses and the jobs that will created through transit-oriented development," the Kapolei and Makakilo lawmaker said.
The first 10-mile stretch, from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium on Salt Lake Blvd and Kamehameha Highway, is scheduled to open in late 2018. The next 10-mile stretch, from Aloha Stadium to Ala Moana Center, will end at the intersection of Kona Street and Kona Iki Street, but that won't be until 2022.
"What I find so exciting is that someone going to school here 25 years from now won't even think about getting on the train. They'll assume it's been here forever and all the controversy of today will be long forgotten like H-3," Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.
Nan Inc. won the $56 million contract to build the UH-West Oahu, the East Kapolei and Hoopili stations.
Last month, Hawaiian Dredging broke ground on the first three stations in West Loch, Waipahu and at the Leeward Community College.
"I know that thousands and thousands of students will be riding it back and forth as well. Instead of sitting in traffic driving, they can be reading and studying, an increased productivity for thousands of our students," LoPresti said.