AIA Speaks Out on Transit_Public
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AIA's Position on Light Rail for Honolulu

View AIA Simulations!   AIA is pro-rail and advocated for light rail as the right solution. Additional links below.

Is this your preferred future for downtown Honolulu?

Simulation of City's planned downtown station at Bishop and Nimitz Highway

 Pictured:  Simulation of the City's proposed downtown station at Bishop Street and Nimitz Highway along route to Ala Moana Center.  Is this the preferred future for our waterfront?

View AIA simulations (created 2009-2011) by AIA Honolulu transit task force.

View recorded Olelo Hawaii program "News and Views - An Option to the City's Elevated Rail"  by Scott R. Wilson, AIA, 2011 AIA Honolulu Regional and Urban Design Committee Chair and immediate past Chair of the AIA Honolulu Transit Task Force.

News and Views Segment Part I (Link to You Tube)
News and Views Segment Part II (Link to You Tube)
News and Views Segment Part III (Link to You Tube)

If We Build it Can we Afford it?

It is the citizens of Oahu who will bear the tremendous burden of funding over 80% of this proposed ~$5.4 billion dollar transportation solution—the largest public works project in the history of this state. 

Particularly in these challenging economic times, and in light of proposals by organizations such as AIA for more viable, flexible and cost-effective solution to address Oahu’s transportation problems, the citizens of Oahu deserve better accountability and additional consideration.  We must act now to change the proposed plans--before we lock ourselves into the selection of transit technology that the City and its citizens can ill afford.

The City's projected Phase 1 from West Kapolei to Ala Moana Center (20.5) miles is projected to cost $5.5 billon.  This is compared to a proposed "Hybrid" Light Rail System running elevated for 10.6 miles and at street level for 9.9 miles at a cost of $3.7 Billion. 
The projected savings is $1.8 Billion if we move to a proposed "Hybrid" Light Rail system--one that can run elevated or at street level as is best  for each community along the rail route. 

Why did AIA Speak Out?

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is the voice of the architectural profession and the resource for its members in service to society. As a local chapter of the AIA, the AIA Honolulu Chapter advocates for good design to advance our local communities.   AIA is concerned about transit as it impacts our entire built environment, our communities and our people. Together, we must look beyond a solution that focuses only on solving our transportation problems to one that addresses our long-term health, safety, welfare and economic well-being. 

AIA is pro rail and supports light rail!  AIA Calls for a choice of light rail as the right choice for Honolulu:  AIA Honolulu urges the City Administration and Honolulu City Council to select a light rail transit solution-- to purchase light rail technology that is capable of running at street level (at-grade) or elevated (above-grade) or cost-permitting, underground (below-grade) to accomodate the particular conditions within each of our communities on Oah'u.  Completely elevated third rail technology as currently planned by the City should not be our only option. We must adopt a system that is the best possible one to meet the long term needs of the citizens of Oahu.

  AIA's Case for Light Rail

AIA's Transit Policy

Click here for our updated Public Policy on Transportation (PDF file) as adopted on August 26, 2008 by the AIA Honolulu Board of Directors.

Read AIA Honolulu's more detailed Position Statement on Transit (PDF file) adopted on October 24, 2008 by the AIA Honolulu Board of Directors.

The AIA Honolulu Board Of Directors, on behalf on our local AIA membership, continues to work to extend our vision and influence through collaboration and dialog with elected officials, allied organizations and other key stakeholders. Our collective intent is to offer our suggestions, expertise, and alternatives to insure a viable fixed rail transit system for the people of Honolulu and its visitors.  In addition to pressing public concerns about affordability and cost-effectiveness of a transit system, AIA
's advocacy efforts focus on five specific areas of importance:

  1. preservation of mauka-makai view corridors
  2. preservation of historic areas
  3. public health and safety
  4. sustainability
  5. maintain open waterfront access

AIA Honolulu strongly supports the concept and implementation of a fixed guideway system as an integral part of future plans to meet the growing needs of our island communities.  However, continued concern has been expressed over the appropriateness of the proposed elevated transit system particularly through the urban core of Honolulu.   We hope that our efforts will continue to promote thoughtful dialog within our island community to arrive at the best solution possible for Honolulu.

Visit our ADVOCACY center for a copy of the our entire roster of AIA Honolulu Public Policies, including the updated transit policy.  

Honolulu's "Primary Urban Center Development Plan"

 The Primary Urban Center Development Plan (PUC DP) is part of the City’s policy over the next 20 years to shape growth and development from Pearl City to Waialae-Kahala.   
The Vision for the PUC describes the Honolulu of 2025. The Vision emphasizes retaining the qualities that attract both residents and visitors, while encouraging growth and redevelopment to accommodate the projected increases in jobs and residential population. The key elements of the vision reflect the size and importance of the PUC:
  • Honolulu’s natural, cultural and scenic resources are protected and enhanced.
  • Livable neighborhoods have business districts, parks and plazas, and walkable streets.
  • The PUC offers in-town housing choices for people of all ages and incomes.
  • Honolulu is the Pacific’s leading city and travel destination.

Click here to be directed to to learn the important role of the City's Primary Urban Center Development Plan.

AIA's Position Statement on Transit

The adopted AIA Position Statement on transit supports an at-grade system through the downtown urban core, based on further research of the AIA transit task force indicating that the costs of a below-grade system cannnot be feasibily supported by the current population base of Oahu and planned funding sources for this rapid transit project.  A flexible light rail system is key to AIA's position in support of present and future thoughtful, planned growth and development of Oahu.

In June 2008: AIA Honolulu conducted an online poll of its membership regarding the proposed elevated transit system in the downtown urban (Honolulu) core.  The poll invitation was sent via email on June 11, 2008, and survey responses were collected until the deadline of 5:00pm, June 18, 2008.  Of the ~650 AIA Honolulu chapter members contacted via an email Action Alert, 144 responded to the poll for a response rate of 22%. 

Click here for PDF summary results of the poll. A total of 90/144 member responses (62.5%) favored either at-grade or below grade through the downtown urban core.  A total of 41/144 members (28.4 %) indicated their preference for elevated rail through the urban core.  This feedback, along with considerations of AIA national policy, local AIA urban design policies, and the principles outlined in the City's Primary Urban Center Development Plan (PUDC), led the AIA Honolulu Board of Directors to adopt a Transit Position Statement in favor of a flexible rail system for Honolulu--one that is capable of running elevated, at grade or below grade as warranted by the specific conditions of each community. 

The AIA position advocates for a combination of at-grade and elevated light rail as best fits conditions of each community.   A light rail could save an estimated two billion dollars in total project cost. 

Pictured Above:  SImulation of preferred at-grade light rail through the downtown urban core, as supported by AIA Honolulu position statement on transit for Honolulu. This simulation shows the latest wireless technology so there are no overhead wires. This is NOT currently planned for Honolulu's downtown, and AIA hopes to ultimately effect a change in technology and route over the long term. 

Read AIA Honolulu's Position Statement on Transit adopted on October 24, 2008 by the AIA Honolulu Board of Directors.

Click here for a summary (PDF file) of AIA Honolulu Board actions and member meetings that led to the development of AIA’s Transit policy and position statement.

Chronology of Actions to Promote Light Rail Position

Click here to be directed to our page detailing AIA's Actions to Promote our position in support of light rail.

Photo Requests

If interested in reprinting our AIA Transit simulations in print or web form, contact Amy Blagriff, Executive Vice President, AIA  Honolulu or Deborah Sharkey, AIA Honolulu Media Coordinator.

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