Road extension could bring historical Ewa train rides to an end - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Road extension could bring historical Ewa train rides to an end

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Steve Vendt (Image: Hawaii News Now) Steve Vendt (Image: Hawaii News Now)
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EWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The group that preserves Hawaii's railroading history says state plans to extend the North-South Road could bring their train rides to a halt.

"There's no other way, short of them building an overpass, that we'll be able to function," Hawaiian Railway Society operations manager Steve Vendt said.

The state Department of Transportation wants to extend North-South Road -- also known as Kualakaii Parkway -- to connect Kapolei Parkway and Roosevelt Avenue. A point-to-point line goes right over the tracks.

"There is no other direct route," Vendt said.

Highways Deputy Director Ed Sniffen said the state hasn't yet settled on the alignment for the extension, which will also widen stretches of North-South to six lanes.

"The DOT will send consultation letters soon and the public will have the opportunity to comment on potential alignments and options prior to the State determining a preferred alternative," Sniffen said.

But some wonder what other options are available.

A mall is being built on one side of the Rail Society's property. Old Ewa Villages is on the other. 

Makakilo-Kapolei Neighborhood Board chair Evelyn Souza said she and other train supporters aren't against development.

"But when it infringes upon the history of the state I think there's a big bugaboo," she said.

Hawaiian Railway Society operates train rides on a historical stretch of tracks. The group also operates a museum.

The plan to extend North-South caught the Hawaiian Railway Society by surprise.

"We were told for the last couple of years from the Department of Transportation that the road would not go through. It would stop at the mall," Vendt said.

The Hawaiian Railway Society has plans to expand by constructing additional buildings on its property, unless the road extension interrupts its operation.

The tracks a road extension could cross are on State and National Historic registries.

"Each time you do this you're taking away that historic fabric of the railroad," Vendt said.

Hawaiian Railway Society owns the land it sits on, and group officials say it would be very difficult to pick up stakes and move.

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