Monday, January 10, 2011

Rail Goal #3 – Support for Second City’s Growth

We’ve begun the New Year with a review of Honolulu rail goals as described in the project’s final environmental impact statement. A refresher course can’t hurt in these changing times.

We’ve covered two goals so far – restoring mobility and improving transportation reliability to the community. Today we’re highlighting goal number three on the list – improve access to planned development to support City policy to develop a second urban center.

That’s a mouthful, but cut down to basics, it means the Second City of Kapolei will have a better chance of developing successfully as stipulated in the City’s General Plan if it’s connected to Oahu’s urban core by a fast, frequent, reliable and safe rail system.

Consider the options to connecting fast-growing Kapolei and surrounding neighborhoods with Honolulu: (1) continued reliance on the private automobile and a narrow network of traffic-choked streets and highways, or (2) an elevated rail system that completely avoids all surface congestion, runs on a reliable timetable and delivers riders comfortably to their destinations at a time of their own choosing.

Here’s the FEIS’s discussion on the “growth support" goal:

"Consistent with the Honolulu General Plan, the highest population growth rates for the island are projected in the ‘Ewa Development Plan area (comprised of the ‘Ewa, ‘Ewa Beach, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, and Makakilo areas), which is expected to grow by approximately150 percent between 2000 and 2030. This growth represents nearly 50 percent of the total growth projected for the entire island. The communities of Wai‘anae, Wahiawā, North Shore, Windward O‘ahu, Waimānalo, and East Honolulu will have much lower population growth of up to 23 percent, if infrastructure policies support the planned growth rates in the ‘Ewa Development Plan area. Kapolei, which is developing as a “second city” to Downtown, is projected to grow by more than 350 percent, to 55,500 people, the ‘Ewa district by more than 100 percent, and Makakilo by nearly 125 percent between 2000 and 2030.
"Accessibility to the overall ‘Ewa Development Plan area is currently severely impaired by the congested roadway network, which will only get worse in the future. This area is less likely to develop as planned unless it is accessible to Downtown and other parts of O‘ahu; therefore, the ‘Ewa Development Plan area needs improved accessibility to support its future planned growth."

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