Dr. Prevedouros mentions the Tampa REL in his most recent essay (linked at Yes2Rail yesterday) , and perennial anti-railer Cliff Slater has been praising it for years at his website. We’re posting several photos of Tampa’s new look with REL.
Opponents of Honolulu’s rail system usually congregate their resistance around rail’s elevated configuration. Before they gravitate to the Prevedouros-Slater option, let them look upon Tampa’s high-visual-impact solution.
We won’t second-guess Tampa on its decision, but it’s worth noting that the city has a distinguishing characteristic that made its car-based solution logical for Tampa: It’s on the mainland. That city’s residents use their vehicles in ways Oahu residents never do. Tampans (Tampanians?) can climb into their cars and drive to Miami, New York or San Francisco if the spirit moves them; their cars can transport them thousands of miles in a single trip. Not so for Oahu residents, and therefore, a more logical option than building more highways on an island is to create a transit system that's fast, frequent, reliable and safe – all of that because it’s elevated.
The REL works for Tampa, and that’s great, but try as they might, Messrs. Prevedouros and Slater can’t make a solid case for building an elevated highway in Honolulu. If environmentalists want to avoid the hypocrite label, they’ll have to oppose that “solution” here, too – and maybe, just maybe, reconsider their knee-jerk opposition to elevated rail, which will be a fraction as tall as the high-rise buildings currently being planned for Kakaako.