Parsons Brinkerhoff EIS Report Driven By Politics, Not Best Choice, for Honolulu Transportation System

City's rail rendering
article top

BY CLIFF SLATER – The quote below from the 2003 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Bus/Rapid Transit program clearly show that the thousands of Oahu residents that Parsons Brinckerhoff and the City interviewed did not want a heavy rail (rapid transit) line because it was unacceptably expensive, too intrusive on the visual environment, and divisive of communities. This Final EIS for BRT was signed off by the City and the FTA.

“The concerns that led to the rejection of the most recently proposed elevated rapid transit system were primarily two: (1) its high cost and (2) its physical and visual impacts … Public input received in hundreds of Vision Team and O‘ahu Trans 2K meetings and workshops attended by thousands of O‘ahu residents revealed widespread agreement that while an elevated transit system might serve goals of improving in-town mobility and strengthening connections between communities, such a system would not foster livable communities. The predominant sentiment among thousands of participants was that a grade-separated transit system would be unacceptably: (1) intrusive on the visual environment; (2) divisive of communities; and (3) too expensive. These shortcomings were judged by public participants to outweigh the recognized benefits of a grade-separated system, i.e. high speed and capacity, increased reliability and reduced negative impact on the surface road system.”
Source: Final EIS for the BRT Project, FTA and City, July 2003. p. 2-57.


In short, our citizens wanted no part of elevated rail.

Now for the rest of the story: Only 18 months later, Mufi Hannemann was elected Mayor and told everyone in sight that he wanted no part of BRT and that what the citizenry wanted was heavy rail and he was going to give it to them — good and hard.

Parsons Brinckerhoff, true to the Civil Engineers Code of Ethics that they protect the public interest, turned on a dime.

Shortly, the required public hearings were re-held, staffed by PB’s people, and Lo and Behold! A new and improved “overwhelming majority” of the attendees favored heavy elevated rail, as PB told us in the Final EIS for rail. May be they were just attendees of a different mentality than the last lot?

It helps to maintain a keen sense of humor about such matters otherwise it will drive you stark raving nuts, or even worse, make you cynical.