Updated at 3:48 p.m., Thursday, December 14, 2006
Different mass transit route proposals heard
BY ROBBIE DINGEMAN
This is what's expected to be the final committee meeting before the final vote next Friday. And it began with two key Council transit supporters proposing different routes.
During today's meeting, Council members Gary Okino and Ann Kobayashi both proposed building a system that would go the longer distance, from Kapolei to UH-Manoa.
But Okino pressed for a fixed-rail system generally described as the Kalaeloa-Airport-Dillingham-Halekauwila alignment.
And Kobayashi pitched a system that started and ended in the same place but went on Farrington Highway to Kamehameha Highway to Salt Lake Boulevard. And she proposed a connector alignment from near Aloha Stadium to Kamehameha Highway, to Nimitz Highway, to Aolele Street, and to Dillingham Boulevard.
Kobayashi carefully avoided calling the new system "rail" in an early exchange with State Sen. Will Espero (D-20th- Waipahu-Ewa Beach), which raised some questions about what technology she might be considering. The city consultants have not chosen a particular technology for what would ride on the fixed-guideway system.
"I think that's what we're all headed for is a fixed-guideway system," Kobayashi said "One that has its own road; you wouldn't even know if there was a train up there or a bus."
Espero said he believes transit is needed for and supported by the people of his community, whatever you call it: "Just build it, please," he urged.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann has been pressing hard for the transit selection before the end of the year. An increase in the general excise tax on O'ahu kicks in Jan. 1 to help pay for the $3.6 billion project.
Originally, the transit system was to have run from Kapolei into downtown Honolulu, through the urban core up to the University of Hawai'i-Manoa, but when Hannemann learned the cost to build that long a system topped $4.6 billion, he asked the city's consultants to also produce a shorter route that would be closer to $3 billion.