Rail Project Raises Concerns For Waipahu High

Sharing Notes…Sen. Michelle Kidani

Aloha! I hope you are enjoying the summer months and are able to plan some fun activities with family and friends.

First, let me once again congratulate the Waipahu High School graduates in the Class of 2014. I enjoyed the ceremony at Blaisdell Center a couple of weeks ago, when we heard administrators recount the amazing accomplishments of the senior class, and heard students talk about their aspirations for the future. At last check, the more than 500 graduates in this year’s class qualified for $11.8 million in scholarship awards and grants. We wish them well as they embark on their next opportunities for discovery.

Rail construction impacting campuses

Anyone who has driven along Farrington and Kamehameha highways knows rail is for real and that construction is proceeding rapidly.

Late in the Legislative session, I was invited to the Waipahu High School campus to hear concerns the school has about the rail segment that runs along the Farrington Highway side of the campus close to some portable classroom buildings and the school gym. School officials say a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Education and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) hasn’t adequately addressed concerns about dust and debris from construction, and the potential effects of the rail operation on the campus once it begins running in a few years. Our meeting with Principal Hayashi, athletic director Stacy Nii and Karley Halsted of HART was instructive.

There was a follow-up meeting at Leeward Community College with chancellor Manny Cabral, UH associate vice president of Community Colleges Mike Unebasami, and HART representatives, in which we discussed concerns about using their employee access in cases of emergencies. I also had an opportunity to discuss the issue with HART executive director Dan Grabauskas in May at the Waipahu Neighborhood Board meeting. He assured me that the school’s concerns are being addressed.

Following these three meetings, I received a letter from Grabauskas in which HART has agreed to check on the dust problem at the WHS gym on a daily basis, and even to conduct cleanups at the gym, if necessary.

Other concerns are being addressed, and I will be monitoring these situations as the rail project continues.

Senate District 18 budget allocations

Last month I was able to report some details of the budget that was given final approval by the Legislature as we adjourned in early May. Now that the budget is final, I can pass along other details, including the allocation of $1.5 million for the very first steps to build a brand new Royal Kunia Elementary School.

Other school projects include $1.8 million for Kaleiopuu Elementary for a new classroom building; $400,000 for Waikele Elementary to expand its library; and $3.2 million for Waipahu High School to upgrade the campus electrical system and begin planning for a new classroom building.

The final budget also includes another $4 million for resurfacing and installation of lighting along Kamehameha Highway from Lumiauau Street to Lanikuhana Street.

I’ll be reporting regularly on activities at the Capitol and in our communities in these MidWeek columns and in my monthly reports to the Waipahu Neighborhood Board. As always my staff and I are available to hear your thoughts and concerns, with the next Legislative session just a few months away.

Sen. Michelle Kidani represents District 18 Village Park, Waikele and Royal Kunia, Mililani Town and most of Waipio Gentry. Contact her at the State Capitol, Room 228, 586-7100, SenKidani@Capitol.Hawaii.gov.