Business owners worried about potential impact from rail construction

 

It was one year ago this month when the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation resumed construction of the rail project.

Crews have been working to build the fixed guideway in West Oahu, and although it’ll be more than a year until they start construction in town, some business owners are worried about the potential impact on their stores.

Pake Zane is one of those business owners.  He owns Antique Alley on Queen Street, and based on the map from HART, the rail will pass right alongside Zane’s store.

Zane moved his business into its current spot in the beginning of 2014 after doing business on Kapiolani Boulevard for nearly three decades.

He says when he signed his five-year lease, his understanding was that the columns for the rail guideway would go on the makai side of Queen Street, not on his side.

“But when the men came from HART, they said the plan is not set in stone,” Zane said.

And that has left him and his wife feeling a bit uneasy.

“So it doesn’t seem there’s a real solid plan and so that makes us feel real insecure and vulnerable to a very dim future,” Zane said.

A HART spokesman told KHON2 that what they do know is that the columns will go in the middle of Queen Street, and that the guideway will track down the middle of the street.

In order to accomplish that, the city is buying snippets of property on both sides of the street so they can widen the road.

As for construction in the Kakaako area, that won’t start until 2016.

Zane worries about the potential impact and effect that’ll have.

“Unless they have some solution for us to carry on business, we’re dead in the water.  It’s like having your doors open but no way to get to you.  So that’s what we worry about now is that.  What is the future for us?” Zane said.

The reason why HART doesn’t know some of the specifics as to a traffic plan for that area is because the contractor for the Urban Honolulu segment hasn’t been chosen yet, but is expected to be selected by the end of this year.

“Over the next year, HART staff and the selected contractor will meet with area business owners to look at ways at minimizing impacts during the construction,” said HART CEO and Executive Director Dan Grabauskas said in a statement.

He added: “Along with providing timely construction updates, HART will work closely with the businesses in making sure there are adequate customer and delivery access to the shops, and proper business mitigation measures and signage during the work period.”

Zane is just hoping for the best.

“It’s really difficult when you’re just starting up a business again or starting a business from scratch to have the external things outside of your store affect you more than what’s happening in the store,” he said.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi told KHON2 that she’s heard from the owners of several businesses on Queen Street, who like Zane are worried.  She plans to schedule a hearing this month to discuss this topic.

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