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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 27, 2001

Finding a little solace here and there

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Columnist

How about a little good news for a change? It's not much, considering everything, but we've got to find solace where we can. Even the president says we've got to pick ourselves up and start getting back to normal, whatever that is now.

Let's start with Punchbowl Street.

For years, this has been the standard by which many of us downtown-types measure all other traffic tie-ups. Some people got old and died driving between the Honolulu Board of Water Supply on Beretania Street and H-1 Freeway via Punchbowl at rush hour.

Suddenly the back-up is gone. Getting on the freeway, even at 4 p.m., now feels like a 30-mph breeze on a hot September day. All it took was adding one little extra lane for about half a block. Hats off to the traffic guys who figured it out. I take back every one of those unpleasant things I said about them while stuck in traffic there.

And how about those new monkeypod trees on the Pali Highway?

They look a little spindly now, but you can already see the potential, a great green canopy stretching down the center of the highway from downtown to Nu'uanu.

The truth is Honolulu gets a little more beautiful every day. In Waikiki, Hale'iwa, Hawai'i Kai, Makaha. From one end of the Island to the other, the precepts of good planning and landscaping have been taking hold, bit by bit, in private and public places.

If you take the time to look there's more good news, too.

• More Hawai'i residents than ever are able to own their own homes; and developers from Kunia to Hawai'i Kai are pushing ahead with quality projects despite economic uncertainties. Thanks to competition and technological advances, the homes in these development are better built than ever.

• The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is housing Hawaiians into homes faster than ever, too. One project in Kapolei is an innovative rent-to-own program that will allow occupants to buy their own home at a great price after living in it for 15 years.

• Cyril Pahinui's stolen guitars were returned.

• The Pearl Harbor Historic Trail plan is moving forward. When finished, it will stretch from Pearl Harbor to Nanakuli, a remarkable story of several diverse neighborhoods coming together in a project that will unite, and benefit, all of them.

• The worst of the summer heat appears to be over, and some much-needed rain is falling around the Island, although we're still a might dry.

OK, so none of that comes even close to compensating for the magnitude of the death and destruction on the East Coast and the military and economic ripples that are spreading like a shock wave all around the world, even to our small shores. I'm certainly not trying to belittle the suffering that so many people are experiencing first hand and at a distance.

I'm just trying to find a little solace where I can.