Tag Archives: rail

Elevated Rail

Elevated Rail modelIt's timely that the City is holding rail workshops around Honolulu to seek public input on station design considerations. Last night's workshop took place at the Pearl Ridge Elementary School auditorium and drew nearly 100 people. Kirk Caldwell, formerly a member of the House of Representatives and now Honolulu's Managing Director, opened up the evening with introductions and the agenda for the evening. Scott Ishikawa, formerly DOT spokesperson and now front man for the City Rail proposal took the audience through an overview of the project. What was presented was quite impressive. The key points Scott delivered for the elevated systems were:
  1. Proposals in response to the City's RFP were coming in at rates lower than expected, due in part to the competitive nature of the business and the economy.
  2. The elevated rail system will be a major boon to the construction industry.
  3. The look of the elevated rail will give Honolulu a futuristic appearance appealing not only to residence but also to tourists.
  4. The elevated system will get the ridership needed to justify it.
  5. The system will be safe and away from traffic so road congestion will not affect it.
  6. The system will be fast and estimated to take 20 minutes from Pearlridge to Ala Moana.
After the presentation the audience was divided into working groups to come up with suggestions on how the stations should be designed. There are construction  standards already set like the station canopy but ideas were being solicited for wall design, landscaping and station decor. The City will return to Pearlridge Elementary School on Oct. 15, 2009 to conduct another workshop with the ideas from last night incorporated.

Light Rail vs. Elevated Rail

Rail comparisonHere's a little background on the topic of the next episode of Bytemarks Cafe. Back in July I participated in Pecha Kucha Night at the Academy of Arts. After my presentation, Scott Wilson, Architect and member of American Institute of Architects (AIA Honolulu), did a presentation on Light Rail. At the time I wasn't aware of the major differences between Light Rail and Elevated Rail. That difference became obviously clear when he posted his pictures comparing the two. The elevated structures required to support the rail system were huge. Evidently the City contracted Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) only considered elevated as an option, not at-grade where light rail would apply. Wilson showed artists renditions of these structures as it would appear in downtown Honolulu and along the route to Oahu's west side. This would obviously affect the mauka to makai view line but there were also implications to overall costs, neighborhood impact and ongoing mantenance. Proponents of the elevated option counter that light rail would present safety concerns, operate at slower speeds and have higher long-term costs. The discussion on this topic is heating up as the City heads toward groundbreaking for the project later this year. You can find the vast assortment of positions from Doug Carlson's Say Yes to Rail System site to recent articles from local media listed on the AIA Honolulu Transit page. Lots of information to digest as this project moves forward with the potential to forever impact Honolulu. If you have any questions for Scott Wilson or Peter Vincent, both of AIA Honolulu, please tune in on Wed. 8/26 from 5-6pm on KIPO 89.3FM, Hawaii Public Radio. Call us at 808-941-3689 with your questions and insights.