Let's begin with a bit of word association. When you hear “Honolulu,” you probably imagine palm trees gently swaying in the wind along sunny beaches abutting the clear, cool ocean. While Honolulu is renowned for its lovely beaches and, of course, the famed Mai Tai, it is also notorious for its traffic. Bleary-eyed commuters are often at a standstill at the H1/H2 merge at the pre-dawn hour of 5:30am. Elevated light rail is the only sensible solution to Honolulu's congestion and commuters' frustration, but a heated debate continues even as construction has begun on the railway terminus in East Kapolei.
Recent developments, including a $1.55 billion Federal Funding Agreement signed following the death of Hawaii's beloved senator and rail advocate, Daniel K. Inouye, as well as a Federal Court decision, signal that construction will proceed, vociferous debate aside. As the line begins to take shape, piercing the skyline near rural East Kapolei, Oahu's residents should hold HART and Mayor Kirk Caldwell accountable by participating in the yet to be scheduled station design workshops. HART and Mayor Caldwell promised:
- Designs that capture the character and history of established communities and perhaps, in historical districts, architecturally mirror their surroundings;
- Stations, and a rail corridor, well-landscaped through thoughtful landscape design, ideally incorporating native plants;
- Stations with the appropriate balance of bus and shuttle links, bicycle storage, park-and-rides, and kiss-and-rides.
Oahu residents and commuters, voice your concerns, share your ideas! How might your station reflect your community through its architectural design? Will you walk or bike in the rain to a station without a park-and-ride? Which stations should have dedicated retail or other commercial spaces?
Commuters from other cities, what station-design ideas should Oahu residents encourage HART to incorporate from your city? Where you live, how do planners engage the public?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.