KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - As rail construction makes its way to the city, small businesses owners in Kalihi are bracing themselves.
Pre-construction has already begun along Dillingham Boulevard and major construction is set to begin sometime between 2017 and 2018.
The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii held a networking event at City Square Thursday evening to help businesses prepare for what's ahead.
"We're a little worried, a little skeptical. Just seeing what's happening down on the west side…Pearl City, Waipahu…it's kind of scary" said Manager of Kalihi Pet Center Brent Chung.
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation executives were invited to the event to be transparent to businesses.
"We're gonna be creating traffic impacts. We've seen on the west what some of our construction activities do to the business activity. So we want to make sure everyone understands what's going to be happening. But also, we're there for them. We have some programs to help them get through this tougher times," Brennon Morioka, Deputy Executive Director for HART
One of those programs is HART's Shop and Dine on the Line, which has questionable impacts on the west side. That is why HART officials say they are already trying to get businesses along Dillingham Boulevard to participate.
Morioka says contractors are required to provide access point to and from impacted businesses. They are also still debating on whether to close Dillingham Boulevard completely at night.
Despite the compromises, business owners still fear going out of business.
"While we recognize its gonna be a challenging time for many of these small businesses, it's also an opportunity to promote these small businesses and really encourage the business community as well as all the consumers and residents of Honolulu to come visit these restaurants and these stores and to keep them in business and provide business to them," Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara said.
"Don't forget us. We will be still here, serving you with great customer service and product so just keep coming back," Chung said.
There is a HART meeting at Kalihi Kai Elementary School cafeteria from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. next Thursday that is opened to the public. Project staff will be there to answer questions.