Development Threatens Viability Of Historic Train Site

Rep. Sharon Har (left) with Kiersten Faulkner of Historic Hawaii Foundation and Tom McCarthy of Hawaiian Railway Society. Photo from Rep. Har.

Second City Spotlight…Rep. Sharon Har

Living in West Oahu, it’s very easy to look past some of the historical relics that our community hosts.

Tucked away in a corner of the Leeward side between Ewa, Kapolei and Kalaeloa is a base yard that might pass as an abandoned site at first glance.

But the machinery that sits next to the fences disguises the tireless and often thankless work of volunteer historians, mechanics and train enthusiasts who maintain the tracks and engines that are used to power the Oahu Rail & Land Company trains.

It is because of their devotion and dedication to Hawaii’s history that I shine Second City Spotlight on Hawaiian Railway Society (HRS).

The baseyard sits at the Waianae end of Renton Road, and Sundays you can take a 90-minute ride down the old tracks and have a leisurely stroll through Kapolei, Ko Olina and up to the edge of Nanakuli. While I enjoyed the cool sea breezes and panoramic views mauka and makai of the tracks, Tom McCarthy narrated to all passengers the history of trains and how they created the economy that our state would eventually be built on.

In late October, they once again will offer evening Spookapalooza rides. Be sure to call early; seats for Spookapalooza fill fast!

While recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, HRS contacted me regarding recent threats to the integrity and viability of the railway. A shopping mall proposed by Hawaii DeBartolo LLC currently is slated for development at the makai end of Kualakai Parkway. The current plan to link the mall to Roosevelt Avenue pays little heed to the neighboring relics by creating two crossings over the tracks used by HRS, and it potentially threatens HRS operations.

In West Oahu, we pride ourselves on being good neighbors. We live, work and play here – and we know that prudent development is needed to create a better community for ourselves and our family. That is why it is rather surprising that DeBartolo has shown very little regard for Hawaiian Railway Society.

While recent developments do not reflect it, I remain hopeful that the developer will respect our community’s treasures through better consideration and communication with their neighbors.

For more information on HRS, visit

Contact state Rep. Sharon Har, D-District 49 (Makakilo/Kapolei) at 586-8500 or email her at