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The Money Train

How public projects shape our economic future.

(page 3 of 6)

Key State Project

Photo: courtesy of State Department of Transportation, Harbors Division

Hawaii Harbors Modernization Plan

State of Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbors Division

Cost:  $618 million

Construction Timeline: Planning stages, completion by 2014

Description: To meet the cargo demands of 2030, the Hawaii Harbors Users Group and the state have decided on a six-year modernization plan to expand and improve existing harbor conditions. Projects range from installation of new terminals, piers and yards. Most of the improvements will be at Kahului and Honolulu Harbors, but expect work at Hilo, Kalaeloa, Kawaihae and Nawiliwili. The state’s general funds will not be used for improvements, but rather, the Harbors Special Fund and other sources, including harbors revenue bonds, revenue from harbor activities, rentals, leases and federal sources.


Some projects go through to meet future demand, such as the state Department of Transportation Harbors Division’s $618 million Harbors Modernization Plan, which will prepare all major harbors across the Islands for estimated use in 2030. Kahului Harbor, Maui’s only commercial harbor, will acquire land on the east side of the harbor and strengthen its pier for future use.

Sometimes a project is fulfilling a vision. Kapolei has been hailed as the Second City for years, but the number of homes in the area does not match the number of jobs. New projects may solve that.  The $109 million Kapolei Judiciary Complex will bring more state jobs to West Oahu. The more than $120 million Ewa North-South Road, being built in two phases, will finally give Ewa residents a second way out of the area. The long-awaited University of Hawaii West Oahu campus will bring a four-year educational institution to Leeward residents. UHWO is being funded through a public-private partnership with Hunt Development, which is exchanging the rights to develop 300 acres of UH land for $100 million in funding.

“Sometimes you’ll see key public projects that can really start a renaissance in an area,” GCA’s Majkut says.

In some cases, it can change the way people live.

Take mass transit.


What’s not to like?

No one says that West Oahu residents don’t need relief during their daily commute into Honolulu. The rail project solution is to provide traffic-free passage for anyone willing to leave their car at home, thereby providing easy commuting and reducing the number of cars on the road. Its proponents believe transit stations will spur development that promotes livable and walkable neighborhoods.

The rail opponents believe people will not opt to stop driving in their cars and rail will be a wasted expenditure. Instead, they propose what are called High Occupancy Toll lanes, or HOT lanes. Raised above grade, HOT lanes allow express buses and automobiles with three or more passengers to ride for free. If it is not congested, single-passenger cars will pay a toll to drive the system. To ensure the lanes remain free flowing, prices will fluctuate depending on demand.

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Hawaii Business,September