Hotel street showing at-grade light rail option

it was my recent privilege to see scott wilson of Honolulu’s AIA chapter present at the last Honolulu Academy’s last Pecha kucha event. wilson and AIA are advocating alternatives to hannemann’s raised rail which tax payer’s are expected to pay 80% of the proposed $5.4 billion project, the largest public works project in our history. wilson’s urging for more flexibility in the design and planning for honolulu was an inspiring rally cry.

what ever we choose,  in the coming months the rail is going to define hawaii’s environmental, social and economic realities. as urban as honolulu may be, the raised rail seems like a brutality that residents and visitors will be forced to coexist with.

a rail is an amazing proposition and has come some way since early designs resembling disneyland’s monorail. but what was once a fantastical idea for us in the 1980s seems a little frightening. i am for the light rail and the more thoughtful approach AIA is advocating. such a structure as hannemann proposes seems like an irrevocable commitment.

cities change and the rail system represents that positive change in many ways. pedestrian vs automotive traffic  is an obvious plus. however, the rail project will take up to a decade to fully realize so the impact on our current infrastructure, ie the highways, seems to be one determining factor in our future.

haven’t we allowed the automobile define us enough? isn’t the limited capacity of our highways why we’re building the rail in the first place? it seems like we’re stacking our problems. i believe that true and radical change is generated by us individually through choice.

in my view hannemann’s proposition is bold but not courageous. courageous would be challenging the status quo to catch a bus or ride a bike rather than drive. we should encourage moderation in driving and encourage more sustainable choices. After all, the car like the rail is a choice.

Check out the TransMilenio system in Bogotá, Columbia, a praise-worthy alternative one city chose for itself.