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Thursday, September 8, 2016

A SOLUTION TO EXPAND AND COMPLETE THE HONOLULU RAIL TRANSIT PROJECT

Nearly seven years ago the site for the 2020 World Expo had not yet been selected.  (That logo on the right is from Milan 2015.)  I suggested Honolulu, and got little interest.  Guy Toyama (who has since passed away) wondered if I would get more support if the concept was expanded to the whole state:


If you clicked on that posting, you would have read:

Here is the problem, and, amazingly enough, the solution.  Hawaii is broken.  You can blame politics, personalities, lack of industry, unions, manini thinking, whatever, but nothing monumental is possible in this state anymore.  From the sinking of the Super Ferry to the debacle that will become the Honolulu Rail Transit Project, we just can't do anything awesomely wonderful.   

Further:

In my world travels, I have been through Atlanta, Seattle, Vancouver, Tokyo, Tsukuba, Osaka, Seoul, Barcelona, Seville, Munich, Helsinki, Montreal, Shanghai (photo to the right), Beijing, Paris, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, London and a few other metropolises, where I noticed that each hosted the Summer Olympics or World Expo, and usually both.  In each case, the people experience became enlightening, for they learned that rivals in unison can, indeed, accomplish miracles.  Cooperation led to success, reinforcing credibility, cascading into a progressive municipality.  Hawaii needs to re-think itself, and I can think of no better way than to host...well, certainly not an Olympics, but a World Expo, sure.

This general concept was published in The Huffington Post on 14December2010:

     THE SUSTAINABLE EXPO FOR 2020

Well, call it World's Fair or World Expo, but Dubai was selected to host this gathering in 2020.  So you ask, what about a future Expo?  No site has yet been selected in follow-on years, but Lodz (Poland) has interest in 2022, Minnesota in 2023 and both Manchester and Toronto for 2025.

Hawaii could compete for 2025, but there has to be someone in the state with a lot of clout, credibility and extraordinary vision to lead the way.  Actually, to quote from TSEF2020:

What is needed is clear and imaginative leadership.  Usually, some unknown has triggered this all in these resurgent cities.  That individual had those qualities to involve power brokers and gain consensus.  Then, somehow, the effort gained a life of its own.

So anyone, theoretically, can get this going, but unfortunately we are getting to be now known as the state that murders progress.  You might even suggest, why not me.  Well, to further quote from TSEF2020:

After a lifetime in renewable energy and environmental consciousness, I fairly recently realized that I was mostly preaching to the choir. We academics are generally tolerated by key decision-makers, maybe now and then even appreciated, but do not have much credibility in the real world.

In any case, I hope this message gets to some key individual who is royally insulted by what I'm saying and does something about it.  But, alas, don't hold  your breath.

Short of anything so magnificent as a World Fair, there remains an element of my overall Expo plan that perhaps might be the solution to not only completing our Honolulu Rail Transit mess today, but expanding the system.  As everyone knew when this project began, there was not enough money to complete the route.  Stopping construction at Middle Street will only insure for failure.  Sure, government will find a way to increase local taxes, but is there a better way?  From SEF2020 (and remember that this HuffPo was published almost six years ago):

Honolulu is suffering through the pangs of planning a mass transit system. Funding crises will no doubt appear, again and again. Why not find a way to allow international teams to finance, design and manage these stations? Like in EPCOT Center (click on that graphic to see the details) around a lake, each site would feature a different region of the world interfacing, in principle, with the Pacific Ocean. A China village, with the architecture, restaurants and entertainment otions of that country. Maybe they’ll bring and leave two pandas. Same for Japan, Korea, the European Community, South America, Africa...and more.

The key here is that these private sector / international consortia will need to be provided development rights around each station.  While it is questionable whether the Ala Moana Center station can be included in this new initiative, maybe not, and, of course, we will need to expand the route to the University of Hawaii Manoa and Waikiki, and maybe even Hawaii Kai.  Not sure about the feasibility of this addition, but why not even Kaneohe / Kailua?

If we can have six extra stations all involving the rest of the world, when completed, Honolulu could well become  the international headquarters in a range of opportunities.  Too, if the best restaurants, hotels and attractions can be included at, or adjacent, to these stations, rail usage would be maximized beyond just the weekday morning and evening rush hours.

To close from SEF2020:

The traditional naysayer, and we really have too many of them these days, will predictably argue that we will be selling Hawaii to the highest bidders, and worse. We need to look on this as our final opportunity to attain supreme world class status. That other option, I remind you, could well be a continuous local depression.

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A tropical depression has popped up east of the Philippines and seems destined to become a Category 3 typhoon and head for the region which includes Taiwan and Okinawa:



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