Urgent: Oahu Needs Immediate Traffic Relief

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City's rail rendering

BY Thaddeus Ordono – I have lived in Central Oahu my entire life. I commuted to my high school, college and the entirety of my professional career to downtown Honolulu. I experienced firsthand what it is like to spend my time on the bus and in my car frustrated with rush-hour traffic. I’ve witnessed the problem grow exponentially worse the past 20 years.

I’ve listened for two mayoral terms of how heavy rail was the solution for people like myself. When I realized the project would command $5.3 billion dollars, I did some research of my own. I read the City Director of Transportations’ written statements. I looked at the City’s experts take on the Environmental Impact Study. I read how the Federal Transit Administration agreed how rail would not reduce the current level of congestion and how maintining rail would not be more energy efficient than driving your car. It’s as if this project is not about relieving traffic just so something can get built by totally disregarding what we already have in place.

What I care about is the urgent need for relief from traffic congestion for my neighbors and myself. We are spending way too much of our lives in our cars. This should be of interest to everyone on the island so we can build toward a stronger economy (by building and maintaining more efficient roadways) conducive for healthy family lives.

I’m writing this because I feel there are alternatives to being saddled by an immense debt that may not reduce traffic congestion. Rushing to build displays no prudence without the alternatives being thoroughly explored. The City can expand on increasing express buses, reducing bus fare, eliminating highway bottlenecks, adding managed lanes, even enforcing the law against driving without insurance. (We should) Make use of what we currently have and improve upon it versus handcuffing ourselves to a new $5 billion project that still poses more questions than answers.