Elevated rail will cut traffic, commute time for O'ahu residents

O'ahu may host one of the most livable cities in America, but as anyone who has spent substantive time outside of Waikīkī could tell you, traveling its roadways at rush hour is a far cry from paradise.

The planned Honolulu Rail Transit project.

Oʻahu may host one of the most livable cities in America, but as anyone who has spent substantive time outside of Waikīkī could tell you, traveling its roadways at rush hour is a far cry from paradise. With just a handful of highways, the state has fewer road miles per capita than any state in the union. This lack of infrastructure plays out each day during the morning commute. According to a report by the University of Hawai'i, the 22-mile trip from Kapolei to Honolulu at rush hour can take anywhere from 60 to 89 minutes.

During certain times of the week, this congestion even outpaces major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles or New York. "If you happen to be driving on a Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on its main highways, you're no longer in the Aloha State," said INRIX, a traffic information provider, in their 2008 National Traffic Scorecard, "You're in the worst place and worst hour of any single roadway in the U.S., taking 88 percent more time to get where you're going than if there were no congestion."

Fortunately, for residents of O'ahu's Leeward (west) side, assistance is on its way. On April 23, the state will start construction on it's $5.3 billion elevated rail system. Supported by $1.55 billion in federal funds and a .5 percent addition to the local General Excise and Use Tax, the project will connect downtown Honolulu with the Honolulu Airport, Aloha stadium, Pearlridge Center and East Kapolei. When completed in 2019, the rail line will cut total transit time from Honolulu to Kapolei to 42 minutes, take and estimated 40,000 cars off the road, and provide the infrastructure necessary to support the Leeward side's growing population.

Feb. 2011 groundbreaking of Honolulu Rail Transit. (Photo courtesy of Honolulu Rail Transit)

[Honolulu Star Advertiser]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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