10 Reasons to Stop Rail at Middle Street
- Sea levels are projected to rise by almost three feet over the coming 30 years, and seven of the eight stations beyond Middle Street could become inaccessible.
- Cost estimates to Ala Moana Center from Middle Street have already doubled and are still low by at least $5 billion with no end in sight.
- Most of rail’s transportation value can be best achieved by stopping at the Middle Street Bus Terminal. Making Ala Moana Center the bus transfer point for thousands of rail riders who must then board buses to continue on to Waikiki, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the many other bus destinations on the island will make the Ala Moana area’s already near-gridlock traffic congestion even worse.
- The Middle Street Transit Center can capitalize on the trends in ride-hailing, ridesharing and autonomous vehicles because of its existing street and highway access and vast parking lot. Lacking on the many rail stations, sundry concessions (coffee, water, cold drinks, food, etc.) will generate significant additional income. Now with the latest electronic timetable, the recently remodeled Middle Street Transit Center already has large public comfort stations.
- Energy savings! Because producing electricity requires much more primary energy than the amount of electricity produced, rail systems consume more energy per passenger-mile than cars and twice the energy use of Honolulu’s modern bus fleet.
- Stopping at Middle Street will preserve the character of historic downtown Honolulu-Chinatown and save the waterfront and Aloha Tower view planes.
- $ billions more can go to housing, health care, elder care, parks, schools and the many pending sea level rise mitigation projects.
- Unfair taxing of Neighbor Islanders can be phased out.
- The projected $110 million annual operation, maintenance and security costs will be reduced.
- As yet undiscovered burial remains (iwi kupuna) will be preserved.
So let’s take time out to discuss and plan!
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Building elevated rail through downtown Honolulu would create enormous construction impacts since entire roadways will need to be cut open to pour underground spread foundations to support the weight of the elevated guideway. Constructing the football-field sized stations planned for elevated rail would create immense disruption to nearby structures, traffic and businesses downtown.
Building elevated rail through downtown Honolulu is fraught with
engineering challenges and unforeseen conditions. The ground makai of Richards Street (including Nimitz Highway) is fill material, not soil or rock you can rest a lot of weight on. The existing buildings downtown were not built using simple pilings as per average construction.
Some, such as Pacific Guardian Center, are built on giant floating footings that work sort of like giant concrete boats. The same type of giant concrete bases would need to be created for the columns that will hold the elevated guideway. This would create enormous construction impacts since entire roadways will need to be cut open, and the foundation of nearby buildings could be compromised. These are very different conditions than the inland construction in Waipahu or Pearl City, with firm soil and buildings far enough away from the guideway that foundation issues don’t arise.
Express Bus Routes from Middle Street
Existing express bus routes from Middle Street to Downtown, UH and Waikiki are shown below.