Hawaii: Say “Aloha” To Transit-Oriented Development
by Craig Chester, Fellow at Smart Growth America, DC Streets Blog (excerpts)
Hawaii can and should put a renewed emphasis on expanding access to residents’ transportation options. Business owners and visitors would benefit almost immediately, as new economic development happens and older communities attract reinvestment.
That’s the verdict of a new collaborative report, “Leveraging State Agency Involvement in Transit-Oriented Development to Strengthen Hawaii’s Economy,” from Hawaii’s Office of Planning and Smart Growth America. Right now, Hawaii and its congested cities have a prime opportunity to implement plans for TOD….
Governor Neil Abercrombie has already set the wheels in motion, with the 2010 announcement of the New Day Plan, which envisions “livable communities that encourage walking, bicycling, carpooling, and using mass transit.” TOD can be key to meeting the plan’s economic, social and environmental goals….
Although much of Hawaii is relatively rural, the counties of Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai have population concentrations clustered in cities, towns and resort areas. Transit-oriented development principles can be leveraged in those areas in conjunction with existing bus service to connect Hawaii residents to businesses and residential neighborhoods, while saving taxpayers money in the process.
As a result, the state Office of Planning is now drafting a resolution for Abercrombie to sign as an executive policy, recognizing that TOD is a priority of state government as part of its smart growth efforts. The order would direct state agencies to work together toward promoting the wide range of benefits that can be achieved through smart growth and TOD….
Presently, the state is in the midst of constructing the 20-mile Honolulu Rapid Transit system, which will link important Honolulu neighborhoods and attractions along an elevated rail line by 2019. The state government is a major property holder in Hawaii, and owns over 2,500 acres adjacent to the proposed rail stations. How the state utilizes this land will have a substantial impact on the direction and viability of TOD projects.
Rail, though, isn’t the only way for TOD projects to take hold on the island, explains Jesse Souki, director of the State of Hawaii Planning Department.
“One important way the state can take a more proactive role in facilitating TOD and walkable, smart growth communities,” Souki said, “is to prioritize existing state properties and other assets the state currently controls that are near transit, including high frequency bus service.”
In the short-term, TOD can begin to take hold throughout the state – not just Honolulu – by centering projects around existing bus service. Ideally, bus service could evolve to include fixed, permanent stations, like those of a bus rapid transit system. A service like that could set the stage for a fixed rail line as a replacement as population grows in the longer term….
“More permanent, high frequency bus transit stations could benefit from TOD,” Souki said. “This is particularly true for islands outside of Hawaii’s most populated island, Oahu, where rider capacity would not justify rail solutions at this time.”
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As Explained: Report: State Office of Planning to Become Super-PLDC