Changing light-rail construction plans in Hawaii will affect redevelopment effort

Written by RT&S Staff
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Hawaii’s first light-rail project is having problems reaching the finish line, and that may affect other projects.

The problems Hawaii is having with its first-ever light-rail project is now spilling over into areas outside of the construction zone.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Executive Director Andrew Robbins announced the final phase of the project would be divided up into phases, stopping short of the rail project’s final goal of reaching Ala Moana. It is not clear if the line will reach Ala Moana, but plans to move the Oahu jail and redevelop the site now appear to be in jeopardy.

The jail facility currently sits between two rail stops, calling for the move to Halawa, which is the preferred relocation site. When that takes place community leaders are calling for the redevelopment of the site to include open space, retail and housing.

State Rep. John Mizuno says the temporary end to the rail line in Kalihi (instead of Ala Moana) would deter interest in redeveloping the land the current jail sits on. Mizuno claims it changes the whole economic picture without predictability or probability “for years.”

Mizuno adds Kalihi would not see an influx of passengers from Ala Moana, and residents would have no rail option to get to jobs, schools and other transportation closer to Waikiki.

Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board member Ethan Dayton agrees with Mizuno, saying ending the rail in Kalihi would not help redevelop the site left behind by the jail.

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