Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Honolulu Has USA’s 2nd Worst Traffic Bottleneck, Yet the AIA Still Wants To Build At-Grade Trolley

Nobody has to tell Oahu’s road-weary car commuters what The Daily Beast just confirmed: The H-1 Freeway is the Second Worst bottlenecked metropolitan highway in the country.

The H-1 experience is worse than the worst highway in the New York City region, worse than the worst in San Francisco, Washington, DC, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis-St. Paul and everywhere else in the country except the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles.

Knowing presumably that we have tremendous commuting problems for drivers on our space-tight island, what does the local American Institute of Architecture chapter want to build? Not a fast, high-capacity rail system designed to move large numbers of commuters and therefore allow them to bypass the H-1 bottleneck.

That’s not what the local architects want. Instead, they are strongly advocating a people-mover – something closer to a trolley than a true commuter-serving rail system.

A trolley is what you'd have to call the AIA’s proposal for an at-grade rail line through downtown Honolulu. Trains traveling east on Hotel Street would be required to make right-angle turns at Richards Street, one block later at King and Richards, again eventually at the Kapiolani and South intersection, at the intersection of Alapai and Beretania, at Richards again at Beretania and finally at Richards/Hotel. This map shows that tortured route with six turns of close to 90 degrees.

Pedestrians might be able to walk fast enough to keep up with a train/trolley on this route, and if they couldn’t walk that fast, they undoubtedly could keep pace in a slow jog.

That’s not what Honolulu needs to address its commuting problems – no more than a baseball team caught in a batting slump would need new uniforms to cure its problems. Honolulu requires a true and attractive alternative to driving, a system to move 100,000 or more people a day quickly, efficiently, reliably and safely through our urban corridor.

The AIA’s proposal is the equivalent of dressing that ball club in new shirts. Its people-mover can’t do what Honolulu needs for reasons you’ll find among this blog’s many posts, but if you want to be pointed somewhere, you might want to spend some time at our January 15th post, below.

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