It came out of the blue for me — as an op-ed in today’s Star-Advertiser. And not from the usual Stop Rail post-development-school practitioners.
This one’s from a standard architect, Nancy Peacock, and a landscape architect, Janet Gillmar. It proposes that we relocate the end-side terminus of the rail line just ewa of River Street, basically at the Iwilei-Aala Station and called the Downtown Gateway Station.
It makes sense, whereas all those Middle Street suggestions did not. Why would a rider get on rail for just a little more than the 21-mile halfway point and switch to a 10-minute bus ride downtown — that 10 minute figure only good with synchronized traffic lights that would stymy most mauka-makai road traffic to give the buses priority?
The Downtown Gateway Station would put inbound workers from Ewa within walking distance of downtown Honolulu, and a one-minute street-bus ride for those who don’t or can’t walk. It would be a quickie bus ride for those who really wanted to go all the way to Ala Moana Center, and the same for UH Manoa students and faculty.
It would save us from the very costly through-town portion of the elevated rail line and it would save us from the blight shown below as the elevated carrier splits downtown from our harbor.
Moreover, the Iwilei area has lots of available terminal space. More than what there would be in Chinatown. Here’s what the HART master plan says about those two areas:
- Iwilei Station Area presents good opportunities for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) to occur on a large scale due to the large number of underutilized properties that would be candidates for redevelopment at some future time. However, the presence of homeless populations and perception of crime are critical development constraints. In addition, the electric power sub- station immediately adjacent to the station is in- congruous with pedestrian-oriented design, and its continued presence would limit the overall density, attractiveness, and accessibility of the station area.
- Chinatown Station Area possibilities for TOD are limited. The area is almost entirely built out and there are few opportunities for redevelopment. Small parcels and many owners make larger-scale reuse and consolidation unlikely. In addition, special district regulations designed to preserve the area’s historic and cultural character restrict develop0ment density and height.
I think everyone has dreaded bringing the rail through to the federal building area via the harbor. Our harbor sure isn’t one of the beauty spots of the world but it has the future possibility of being close to that. The elevated rail line would pretty much rule out future remaking. I would truly separate mauna from makai.
So why not give the Peabody-Gillmar proposal a fair hearing? Yes, it would require a federal okay, but I can’t imagine an objection to something that saves money while providing basically the same transport service in the original Ala Moana Center line.
Look at the two maps below and give it some thought. Maybe there is a downside, but right now I don’t see one. Do you?