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'Listening to Our Communities' Is Important for Honolulu Rail, State Lawmaker Says

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

While many critics, supporters and government officials have voiced their support or opposition to pausing the Honolulu rail at Middle Street, one state representative said he wants more information and community feedback.

State Representative Henry Aquino grew up in the Waipahu area and represents many West O‘ahu residents who are likely to jump on the train to Honolulu when it begins service. He also chairs the House Committee on Transportation and has been watching the progress of the project with keen interest.

Aquino said he has talked to families in his district about the rail project to get their perspectives.

"They would like to see the project move forward, they'd like to see the project go all the way, the full 20 miles," Aquino said. "However, looking at the price tag, looking at the ongoing concerns with the construction infrastructure, the cost overruns—I mean, these are real things."

"However, there are residents that I've talked to that would really like to see the interim service start just so that they can see how it's gonna be," he added.

When asked about pausing the rail at Middle Street or somewhere else before Ala Moana, Aquino said it would depend on the transportation services available to commuters for the final leg.

"Right now, I don't think the city bus system and other modes of transportation are really equipped or been planned out yet," he said. "So if it does stop short of Ala Moana, let's say, Middle Street, downtown, how do we incorporate all these different options that are available to residents to get them to where they need to go?"

"I think that needs to be further vetted. I know that HART and the city, they're looking at a matrix of different possible options. And I think that's very much worth looking at."

He said listening to our communities is probably the best option moving forward.

"It's such a big infrastructure project that would truly benefit residents and visitors alike, that we need to take a look at every concern, every issue moving forward. I think we owe it to the communities that we serve."

This story aired on The Conversation on June 9, 2021.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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