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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rail transit


It seems fruitless to counter yet another Dave Shapiro broadside against Mayor Hannemann, particularly since he seems unwilling to do any research or examine the issues thoroughly — but I'll try.

His Jan. 20 essay was typical: exaggeration, personal invective against the mayor, ignorance of the facts, ad nauseum.

Yes, Mayor Hannemann plays tough, but that's what we expect of our leaders. And while he plays hard, he follows the rules. We would not have come this far in the process without following all the rules and taking into account all the concerns raised. I emphasize the word "process," because the mayor has insisted that we dot the i's and cross the t's every step of the way.

Shapiro really should be focusing on Gov. Lingle, who (a) reversed course on a rail project she first proposed in 2003, (b) flip-flopped on the tax surcharge to fund rail, (c) is going against a majority vote by the electorate in favor of a rail project — after calling for that very referendum, and (d) raising objections to a system at the 11th hour instead of getting involved from the beginning.

If there's anyone whose motives and actions should be called into question, it's the governor.

KIRK CALDWELL | Managing director, City and County of Honolulu


Street-level rail, why bother?

I read with much concern the article on the front page of The Advertiser, Jan. 19, "Architects urge rail change." If we are going to spend the money on a rail system, it should be one that alleviates the most traffic.

Building a rail system at ground level takes away already packed lanes of traffic and is a slower system. The result is less ridership, more traffic and added expense to an already expensive rail system. Any savings realized by changing the system to a street-level train would most likely be eaten up by the increased cost of delaying construction. If the state is concerned about the cost, then they should stop the delays and allow the city to get on with the project as proposed.

As far as aesthetics are concerned, a train is a train whether one looks at it at ground level or elevated. I personally think the elevated version looks more modern and less obtrusive.



As a former resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and employee of BART, the regional rail system, I am a big proponent of rail here and believe it would be good for Honolulu's future.

But let's learn from San Francisco. They had an ugly freeway running along their waterfront, and once people saw how big and ugly it was, many wanted to get rid of it. Only the Loma Prieta earthquake allowed them to remove the damaged freeway. In its place, a ground-level streetcar system was built, beautifying the waterfront, increasing the city's image and providing transit flexibility.

Let's not make the same mistake of building something that only after it is built will people see what an eyesore it is and not be able to get rid of it. We need the flexibility of a rail system that has street-level capability. And don't let that ugly overhead structure go into Waikīkī, which is sure to destroy its image. A street-level system there would work fine. A street-level system will also have the future capability to grow into our outlying neighborhoods.

That has been the story wherever rail has been built; extensions are demanded by the people.

JOHN POST | Honolulu



In regards to Jerry Burris' column, "Saddle up for a ride to fiscal rescue," (Advertiser, Jan. 20) I agree that legislators are facing a tough session with the $1.2 billion shortfall and little fat to cut. However, he misses the utility of special funds and states that converting these funds to general funds will "mortally offend all kinds of special interests."

Maybe I'm one of those "special interests," but I'd like to see the fee collected on incoming cargo continue to be used to inspect incoming cargo for invasive species (the fee goes into a special fund for this purpose), instead of it being lost.

I'd also like to see the conveyance tax (paid into a special fund when real estate changes hands) continue to support rental housing for less fortunate families and environmental protection where Hawai'i's native species live, and not be spent elsewhere.

Special funds were set up so that important programs such as these could weather tough times.

CHRISTY MARTIN | Public information officer, Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS)



Gen. Mixon's proposal to create a new counterinsurgency training center at Mākua (Jan. 3), displacing traditional training the Army has claimed for years must be conducted there, merely confirms the Army doesn't really need Mākua at all.

"Traditional" training can take place at Pōhakuloa, as Mixon proposes, while the new training can occur at Schofield, where the Army already conducts convoy exercises and has an operational shoot room.

On the Waianae Coast, we have a different vision for Mākua's future. We propose that the Army start transitioning out of Mākua, with a community group taking over Mākua's management.

The funds the Army would be required to pay for cleanup and to maintain endangered plant and animal populations could be transferred into an endowment, which would be used to maintain the facilities, hire and train community members, and implement a realistic schedule for clearing unexploded ordnance and restoring the valley.

In less than 19 years, the state lease ends and the Army must return the lower third of Mākua to Hawaii's people. Rather than continue destroying the cultural and biological treasures that make Mākua unique, it makes more sense to invest in the people of Waianae by building a world-class community training center that would provide critically needed economic development, a restored landscape and community pride.