Honolulu rail plan could affect Oahu jail site redevelopment

Underground obstacles could spell another lengthy delay for Honolulu's embattled rail project
Underground obstacles could spell another lengthy delay for Honolulu's embattled rail project
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 4:50 AM HST
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HONOLULU (AP) — Delays in Honolulu’s large rail project could have implications for the planned redevelopment of the site where the Oahu Community Correctional Center currently stands, officials said.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director Andrew Robbins said last week the remaining rail line may have to be built in phases, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

The possibility of temporarily stopping short of the rail project’s final goal of reaching Ala Moana could affect potential uses of the jail site about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) north in Kalihi.

Officials want to move forward with plans for construction of a jail to deal with continuous inmate overcrowding, while lawmakers and community leaders have sought redevelopment of the jail site for uses including open space, retail and housing.

Democrat Gov. David Ige has said the current jail site holds great potential for Kalihi residents, including “good-paying jobs.”

But the facility between two proposed rail stops must be relocated first. The current preferred relocation site is state land in Halawa.

Hawaii City Councilman Joey Manahan said he supports building rail to Ala Moana, Hawaii’s busiest transportation hub, partly to honor the city’s funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration and preserve federal funding.

The relocation could stimulate the economy in Kalihi and encourage redevelopment, Manahan said.

Democratic state Rep. John Mizuno said a temporary end to the rail line in Kalihi would deter interest in redeveloping the current jail site.

“If it (rail) is all of a sudden on hold, that changes the whole economic picture without predictability or probability for years. It could actually have an adverse effect,” Mizuno said.

Kalihi would not see an influx of passengers from Ala Moana, and Kalihi residents would have no rail option to get to jobs, schools and other transportation closer to Waikiki, he said.

Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board member Ethan Dayton said ending the rail in Kalihi would not help spur redevelopment of the jail site.

“It’s going to be no difference,” Dayton said.

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