Under new city plan, embattled rail project would stop short of Ala Moana Center
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu’s embattled rail project will stop at Kakaako rather than be built to Ala Moana Center under a proposal unveiled in the mayor’s State of the City address.
“It really came down to simply how much do we have and how much can we build,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.
In his speech Tuesday, the mayor stressed the plan is subject to federal approval.
Under the proposal, the rail project ― at least in its first phase ― will extend for 18.75 miles rather than 20 miles. And, said Blangiardi, it will stop at Halekauwila and South streets.
That’s where the Civic Center station will be built.
The new project will also have fewer stations ― 19 rather than the initially planned 21.
Blangiardi said he plans to submit the new recovery plan to the Federal Transit Administration in June, and put the estimated price tag for the project at $9.1 billion.
The FTA has been briefed on the proposal, he said.
“We must move forward with a project that is functional and within the city’s means,” Blangiardi said. “In the end, the numbers dictate the strategy.”
But a number of onlookers were disappointed with the decision to cut the project short.
“If you have people coming from the west end of the island, traveling all this distance to fall a little more than a mile short to Ala Moana I mean, Ala Moana is definitely highly visible and recognizable place where everybody wants to try and get to,” said Maurice Soque, of Hawaii Dialogix Telecom.
Honolulu resident Abi Lee had this to say about a rail line to Kakaako: “Pretty inconvenient. I don’t think I would use it.”
Meanwhile, some real estate experts support the mayor’s proposal.
“Let’s get moving on it and get our money, what we have left to start putting in our sewer systems, our roads, and rebuilding Honolulu, the way it needs to be,” said Real Estate Consultant Stephany Sofos. “Honolulu looks very, very tired right now and we have to revitalize it.”
“In my mind, the mayor acted very logically because it was a cost cutting measure in order to get the rail funded with limited resources and very limited political support,” said Real Estate Expert Ricky Cassiday.
The city’s recovery plan also includes a delay in the construction of a parking structure at the Pearl Highlands station, which will serve as a terminal for North Shore and Central Oahu commuters.
Blangiardi said the structure will cost ”$330 million for 1,600 stalls at a cost of $206,000 per stall with negligible impact on ridership.”
This is Blangiardi’s second State of the City address and comes as Oahu seeks to emerge from the pandemic and bolster its economic recovery.
Among the other issues the mayor touched on: Climate change programs, affordable housing and streamlining city services.
STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS:
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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