Sunday, February 19, 2012

Star-Advertiser Prints First Comprehensive Piece on Rail Construction as Project Readies for Phase One; LTE Forum: What HOT Lanes Are and Aren’t

Elevated guideway above Farrington Highway will give users a traffic-free ride.
The front pages of two consecutive editions of the Sunday Star-Advertiser have been devoted to the Honolulu rail project, and this week’s version has a much stronger foundation than what we read last week.

Today’s paper has a “double truck” layout on facing pages (8 and 9, subscription needed) that will probably win some graphic design awards somewhere along the way. (The images in today's post are only tiny slices of the in-print original.) It’s an impressive piece of artistry that visualizes how construction of the rail project will be accomplished. The accompanying copy focuses on traffic control measures that will be used during the three years of phase one work. The project is likely to begin heavy construction within a few weeks following the city’s receipt earlier this month of a Letter of No Prejudice from the Federal Transit Administration. The LONP was yet another critical approval the project has received during its long planning and design period. The city is now green-lighted to use local funds on major construction. A Full Funding Grant Agreement is anticipated in the last quarter of 2012 that would lead to $1.55 billion in federal funding.
This image is part of a wider graphic showing how support columns will be built.
LTE Forum
A letter to the editor today responds to an anti-railer’s commentary (subscription) last week extolling the alleged virtues of managed lanes; Yes2Rail responded to the piece the next day. Today’s authoritative letter was written by the rail operations manager of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation:

Managed lanes are really just toll roads (Star-Advertiser, 2/19)
“…’managed lanes’ is simply another term for toll roads. The truth is:
“Buses are not ‘guaranteed a ride at 55 miles per hour during rush hour.’ Speed and travel times are subject to traffic conditions and offer no ‘guaranteed’ speed.
“Vehicles on managed lanes are still subject to accidents that can tie up lanes for hours. Elevated rail offers congestion-free commutes.
“ Managed lanes for a toll limits access to those who can afford to pay extra for the privilege of driving on them. Public transportation should provide affordable access to all.
“Elevated managed lanes have limited entrances and exits, reducing the number of people who actually use them.
“Managed lanes can carry ‘more than 1,000 cars per hour,’ the author claims. Rail has an initial capacity of 7,200 passengers per hour, per direction.
“The bottom line is rail removes cars from congested roads and highways and offers Oahu residents a reliable transit alternative. That’s the real solution.”
And this is the Yes2Rail post we’re likely to link back to whenever rail opponents tell us how much better their toll road would be than rail.
Each Ansaldo two-car train can carry more than 300 passengers.

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