Friday, October 28, 2011

Honolulu Rail Supporters Stick to Facts on Show, Counter Opponents’ Earlier Penchant for Bombast

An HPR talk show hosted another rail discussion yesterday.
As fireworks displays go, “Town Square” on Hawaii Public Radio last evening was more sparkler than aerial bomb.

The city’s response to anti-railers Cliff Slater and Randall Roth was pre-ordained to be more muted and – yes – more responsible than what the two rail opponents tossed around six weeks earlier.

Messrs. Slater and Roth as good as accused the city of lying to the public, so the question had to be asked: Have city officials been lying about future congestion issues all these years?

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Interim Executive Director Toru Hamayasu politely declined to respond in kind to Professor Roth’s “shame on the city” sham. Preferring the sparkler approach, he dispassionately affirmed what we already know: The city has always said traffic congestion in the future will be worse than it is today – even after rail is in operation. (With 200,000 more Oahu residents in 2030 than 2005, it can’t be otherwise.)

That was a direct response to Mr. Slater’s principal accusation – that city officials never openly discussed those issues. We’ve posted several refutations of that charge here at Yes2Rail, with perhaps the most damning evidence being the “live” radio show in 2008 when Mr. Slater said he agreed with the city’s Wayne Yoshioka that congestion will only get worse on Oahu, no matter what happens with rail.

Sparkler Illumination
Mayor Peter Carlisle also was more into sparklers than bomb tossing on the show. When asked by host Beth-Ann Kozlovich whether just sitting down with the Gang of Four (the lead plaintiffs on a federal lawsuit intended to kill rail) might do some good, the Mayor said no way.

“If they want to do that in an isolated room, OK,” he responded, “but I’m not going to give them a public forum” to carry on with their anti-rail rhetoric.

The Mayor said the opponents are doing everything they can to convince the public the city has conspired to not tell the truth about the rail project. “Look at the facts,” he said, noting the several sound reasons why other travel options can’t measure up to Honolulu’s planned elevated system.

Mr. Carlisle described the impacts at-grade rail transit would impose on Honolulu. He said Phoenix’s 20-mile at-grade system required trenching the entire length – 30 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Doing that through Honolulu would produce massive disruption to cultural remains. He also described the traffic chaos and pedestrian danger that would ensue from building at-grade transit in tight quarters like Hotel Street in downtown Honolulu.

West Side Concerns
Fellow “Town Square” guest Maeda Timson provided the perspective of a long-time resident of Makakilo, one of the several west Oahu neighborhoods that will benefit from rail. She said the personal toll congestion imposes on residents who commute into town can’t truly be appreciated by those who live outside the area.

We’ll have additional comments from the show and will link to an audio file once it’s posted at Hawaii Public Radio’s website.

No comments: