Hawaii is slated to begin construction on an elevated train in Honolulu this spring, resolving a 40-year battle to build the mass transit system. The train, which would stretch from Honolulu to Waikiki, a span of 20 miles, would be 40 feet in the air and travel across a variety of areas, from farmland to commercial districts to beaches.
The elevated train will be suspended 40 feet in the air and have a 30-foot wide span with 21 stations. It is designed to alleviate some of the congestion on the roads from an increase of commuters and tourists, while encouraging new growth.
The islands' need for the elevated train has much to do with their recent growth, where population surpassed 930,000. Some people feel that the train isn't going to cut it. Cliff Slater, a leader of the opposition to the project, told the New York Times that We are not all grass huts anymore. There's this illusion as to what Hawaii is all about, and New York-style trains don't cut it.
Toru Hamayasu, the interim director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit echoed that statement, telling the Times This is not a sleepy, lazy, little city anymore. It's a big town now.
Some opponents of the elevated train cite financial reasons, claiming that the train isn't worth the cost of building it. It is really a lunatic project. There is no other way to describe it, Panos Prevedouros told the Times. Prevedouros is a professor of civil engineering at the University of Hawaii and past candidate for mayor of Honolulu. It's twice as expensive - for only 20 miles of track - as the Washington Metro, he said.
However, despite opposition, Hawaiians believe the elevated train is going to happen. Peter Carlisle, the mayor of Honolulu, told the Times, It's our genuine belief that there is sufficient momentum for this to carry itself forward on its own, absent some adverse ruling by the court. There isn't any doubt that this is something a majority of people in Oahu want. The number of people who are opposed to it are slowly withering away as people realize that first, we have to do something to get people employed, and second, traffic is unbearable.
In addition, Carlisle said that people complaining about aesthetics have to remember that not everyone finds the same things attractive. In terms of aesthetics, I can't think of anything less attractive than staring at a car in front of you and seeing nothing but its brake lights, of being stuck hours on end. If you are looking at the rail, you won't have to look at traffic at all. You'll be able to sit down and work.