Thursday, January 26, 2012

Question Answered: No, Mayoral Candidate Does Not Understand a Basic Issue re Honolulu Rail – Why Construction Is Starting on Line’s West End

Our Monday headline asked the question, and the new edition of MidWeek answered it. The weekly quotes new mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano as follows:

“They want to start (building rail) in Kapolei and go to Waipahu. Usually you would start from the city and go outward. That way, if you run out of money, you can still run the transit from the city and continue from there.” added additional remarks from the “fiery former governor” (HR’s description) about the west end of the project:

“Cayetano also noted the project ‘doesn’t make sense’ because it starts in an empty field in Kapolei and in three years, would extend to Waipahu, a town nearby. He questioned who will ride a train from an empty field in Kapolei, to Waipahu, a town several miles from Downtown Honolulu, except politicians who voted for the project.”
MSF Basics
We’ve discussed this with audiences all over Oahu, and it looks like rail construction basics need a permanent home here at Yes2Rail, a place candidates for public office can visit to brush up on the facts.

Think it through: Wherever Honolulu rail’s first segment is built, a maintenance and storage facility (MSF) must be built nearby. It makes sense because it’s common sense; you have to park and maintain train cars each night, and the facility therefore must be connected to wherever the first segment is built.

This means that starting in town and building outward toward Kapolei would require finding room in town for the 44-acre MSF. Imagine 44 football fields laid out in one big clump, each 300 feet long and 160 feet wide. Scrunch them all together, and that’s about how much space the MSF will fill.

Since just about everything between Ala Moana Center and Middle Street – the first segment that would be built if the candidate were planning rail's construction – existing buildings, businesses, homes and infrastructure would have to be cleared away to make room for the MSF. The cost in both dollars and social impact would be unacceptably extreme.

As Mr. Cayetano himself said, there’s a lot of unoccupied space (for now) on the west end between Kapolei and Waipahu – two communities that will be connected by segment one. The MSF will be located near Leeward Community College to service that segment; work on it began in October.

That’s why rail will be built west to east – sensibly so.

As for the concept that this city would begin building a multi-billion dollar rail project without having the necessary funding in place and could run out of money before it’s completed – that’s a remarkable way to look at it.

Honolulu rail is on a different track.


Anonymous said...

Undoubtedly, the MSF facility will be built first. Instead of then building westward to East Kapolei, it would make more sense to build Eastward to the City Center where ridership would be greatest.

Doug Carlson said...

So exactly where, Anonymous, would you have carved out 44 acres from existing commercial and infrastructure space? I think you missed the whole point. Please read this post again, and thanks for your comment.