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Old Posted May 26, 2019, 4:17 AM
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electricron electricron is offline
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Location: Granbury, Texas
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Originally Posted by a very long weekend View Post
The elevation was due to weather, right-of-way, and costs, of course, but there's also a really important consideration in Hawaii - safety. The system does run on the ground (grade separated, obviously) in some places, for instance, by Leeward Community College.

The hulking look of the thing is down mostly to required over-engineering brought on by federal DOT standards.

I agree that HART doesn't have any real visual impact on an aesthetic level, as Honolulu is a highly ugly city at the ground level. The real visual impact is on the landscape, and I think that's an insignificant quibble, like complaining about power lines. Contract that with the massive increase in transportation mobility. The great fault of this line is: (1) that it wasn't extended to the east side from the very first, like with (possibly single track) spurs down onto Waikiki and up to the university; and (2) the delays that moved the construction timetable into overlap with a national labor shortage, with the result of massively pushed up costs. They missed two years of cheap labor that could have saved hundreds of millions and kept the project on track.

Anyway, people complain now, but I predict that when it's done, it'll be a beloved addition to the island that's heavily used, and about which people have that grim Hawaiian pride, like the H3. Guaranteed within six months of its opening at Ala Moana that the eastsiders organize to get an extension for the sake of 'tax fairness' or whatever.
HART's rail transit is being built for the future traffic demands, so it had to be grade separated because most of the streets in downtown Honolulu are fairly narrow for a city its' size. Costs are usually cheaper building rail lines above grade than below grade, but that's not the only reason why they chose to build up.

Tunneling in volcanic soils is not that difficult engineering, H3 tunnels through the Koolau Mountains on Oahu at an elevation over 1,300 feet above sea level to connect Honolulu with Kaneohe. H3's entire length is less than 16 miles. going from sea level to 1300 feet and back down again to sea level in less than 16 miles involves much climbing uphill and braking downhill. These mountains have volcanic igneous rock. So they have tunnels on Oahu before - the type of soil was not the problem.

The major problem with tunneling under Honolulu is mostly political. Native Hawaiians worried about disturbing undocumented historic human remains. The more dirt you disturb, the more likely you will dig someone or something up.
Everyone is or should be worried about costs and cost overruns for the transit project. Their taxes are paying for it, not the transit fares they will be collecting.
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