Sunday, February 27, 2011

Imagining Manoa Road as a One-Lane Path

The headline in the morning paper has a why-did-the-chicken-cross-the-road quality to it. Surely we know by now why Honolulu needs an alternative to driving through the urban core.

Those questions were/are answered in numerous documents, including the final environmental impact statement. Aren’t they being read?

Cutting some slack for the three dozen people who attended a town hall meeting in the valley community of Manoa, maybe they don’t or can’t appreciate they why’s and wherefore's of the planned rail system.

They have a much less complicated drive from their homes down past the University of Hawaii to Honolulu’s business and commercial neighborhoods. The vast majority of Manoa residents never confront the H-1 freeway congestion captured in the photos to the right.

Maybe This Will Help

Manoa residents sometimes do complain about access for their valley, which is walled in on its sides by ridges and at the back by the Koolau Mountain Range. The only routes in and out are Manoa Road and University Avenue, and they bottleneck traffic twice a day.

What if it were worse than that? What if Manoa Road were nothing more than a one-lane unimproved path? What if University Avenue were a gravel road even narrower than it is today? What would those conditions do to residents' travel times?

“Preposterous!” they’d likely say. “The City would never allow conditions to deteriorate to such a condition.”

And that’s exactly what West Oahu residents have been saying year after year about the ever-growing traffic problem they confront twice daily. The H-1 is jammed for miles, and surface streets aren’t an alternative.

As the FEIS, the Alternatives Analysis and countless media stories have documented, that's why Honolulu needs a rail system – to provide congestion-free travel through the city for generations to come.

That’s the issue, Manoa residents. Imagining what your daily trips would be like through an even more constricted Lower Manoa neighborhood might help you appreciate the greater community's need for rail.


Today’s newspaper story ends with a paraphrase of something the meeting’s host allegedly said:

The Federal Transit Authority must approve the city’s financial plans. If it fails to do so, a fixed guideway idea could be the alternative solution, Kobayashi said. But otherwise the city must stick with a steel wheels on steel rail system.

For the record, Honolulu rail will be a fixed guideway system. You can look it up.

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