Oahu Residents Weigh In on Light Rail Plan

Ono Esene
Ono Esene
Jessica Trainor
Jessica Trainor
Josef Trainor
Josef Trainor
Yana Alliata
Yana Alliata

OAHU (KHNL) --  Leeward Oahu residents express gratitude that a rail plan is finally on track.

Friday, a panel of international transportation experts recommended a steel wheel on steel rail option as the best plan for Oahu.

Saturday, residents all over the island give their reaction on the city council's plan to move it forward.

Traffic during the weekend isn't too bad, but during the week, parts of the H-1 Freeway and Nimitz Highway can be bumper to bumper during rush hour.  Folks from different parts of the island weigh in on a plan that could help Oahu's traffic problems.

Over the years, leeward residents have gotten used to sitting in traffic, but it's taken its toll.

"It's so bad that it takes an hour and a half just to get to Pearl Harbor and I work at Pearl Harbor," said Ono Wsene, a Nanakuli resident.

That's why people like Esene are happy a light rail system on Oahu could be under way soon.

"Well, I'm very excited about the idea that they're going to move forward with that," she said.

Not surprisingly leeward residents seem to be aboard the rail plan, but even folks on the windward side think it's a good idea.  Folks like Josef and Jessica Trainor, who live in Kailua.

"I think as long as they can keep it on time and within the budget, I definitely think it's an excellent idea," said Josef Trainor.

"I think it'll be a good idea," said his wife Jessica.  "It worked well in Denver and I used it a lot in Denver, and I think it would benefit the people on the leeward side quite a bit."

Jessica said Denver's light rail system helped make her long commute a lot more enjoyable.

"I could just park at the Park and Ride and get a ticket and sit for half an hour and read my book, not worry about traffic at all," she said.

But some East Oahu residents aren't sold on the plan.

"It's unnecessary and even if it has been successful in other states in the United States, even in other countries, I still think we need to ask the question, 'Is it right for Hawaii?'" asked Yana Alliata, a Tantalus resident. "Because, as we all know, Hawaii is unique."

And some say the $4 billion price tag to build Oahu's light rail system is too expensive.

"I think the fact that I would have to be paying for something like this as a taxpayer kind of upsets me but then again, there's so many other things in Hawaii that I'm paying as a taxpayer that I don't necessarily support," said Alliata.

Still others say they're willing to support the project even if they don't directly benefit from it.

"I'd be willing to absolutely put my tax dollars towards something like that would not benefit me personally, but everyone else on the island, so just improve the situation a lot," said Josef Trainor.  "It's definitely worth it."

"In the long run, I think it could really help Hawaii, help our traffic, help our congestion problems on the roads," added Jessica Trainor.

People can make their voices heard in a series of public hearings next month.  Then, the Honolulu City Council plans to make a decision in April.  Mayor Mufi Hannemann (D-Honolulu) hopes to break ground on the project by the end of 2009.