Honolulu city council members call for rail route change - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Honolulu city council members call for rail route change

Councilmember Todd Apo Councilmember Todd Apo
Councilmember Charles Djou Councilmember Charles Djou
Councilmember Romy Cachola Councilmember Romy Cachola

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Rail may not go through Salt Lake after all.

Just two days after voters say 'yes' to steel-on-steel, two Honolulu council members call for a route change.

That change would bring rail to the Honolulu International Airport instead. And it'd cost point-two million more dollars than the Salt Lake Route.

The thinking is, 'yes,' it may be more expensive to build a transit system here at the airport.

But councilmembers Todd Apo and Charles Djou say it'll serve more people and businesses compared to the Salt Lake route.

Running rail over Salt Lake Boulevard is a route the Honolulu city council adopted in March, but not necessarily favored. In fact, only one councilmember wanted it.

"We had to accommodate Romy Cachola to get the votes so we could get the EIS worked out." said Honolulu city council Rod Tam.

Now that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement or EIS is out, councilmembers Todd Apo and Charles Djou have introduced a bill to switch the route away from Salt Lake.

"We have the ability to run the spur to Salt Lake in order to serve that residential community but it makes more sense to run the entire line through Pearl Harbor and the airport," said Apo.

"It's a bad move the way I look at it," said Honolulu city council Romy Cachola.

The Salt Lake Route is shown here in blue.

The airport route in red runs along Kamehameha Highway then north to Nimitz to Aolele Street.

From Aolele Street, rail would then come through Keehi Lagoon Beach Park, past these tennis courts, then out to town via Middle Street and Dillingham Boulevard.

The airport route is more expensive than the Salt Lake Route.

"But you're getting a quality product rather than one that's not quality," said Tam.

It's not that we're saying never to go through Salt Lake Boulevard. Instead we're saying, where should we prioritize, where should we go first," said Djou.

The first reading of Djou and Apo's bill is set for November 12th.

According to the City's report on the impacts of rail, connecting the airport to the rail line will mean the City would take over fewer properties, but displace more businesses compared to the Salt Lake Route.

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