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City plans $28 million traffic center on O'ahu

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City plans $28 million traffic center on O'ahu

The city plans to build a seven-story, $28 million traffic management center and mass transit facility on Alapa'i Street across from the Municipal Building in Honolulu by 2008.

The traffic management center will provide a one-stop facility for nearly every city and state agency involved in fighting traffic congestion and dealing with accidents, said Toru Hamayasu, chief planner for the Honolulu Department of Transportation Services.

The center will replace a nearby smaller facility in which city officials monitor traffic congestion by video camera.

The new facility, to be built on the site of the existing Alapa'i Street bus terminal, will include room for DTS, the state Department of Transportation, Civil Defense, Emergency Management Services' dispatch center and the Honolulu Police Department's homeland security efforts, Hamayasu said.

"It's one of Mayor (Mufi) Hannemann's top priorities to put all these operations under one roof for expediency and efficiency," he said.

Design and construction of the traffic management center is estimated to cost about $23 million. Another $5 million would be spent to build a new mass transit transfer center.

The new traffic management center is among 84 city and state proposals totaling more than $556 million in a planned O'ahu Transportation Improvement Program for 2006-2008 submitted last week to the O'ahu Metropolitan Planning Organization's Policy Committee, which has to approve all projects using federal funds.

The projects include everything from bridge repairs and bus maintenance to new highway construction, and amount to a prioritized roadmap to cope with increased safety and congestion issues on O'ahu.

"This document amounts to the bricks and mortar of how we're going to deal with our traffic problems," said city Councilman Nestor Garcia, head of the OMPO Policy Committee.

Brennon Morioka, deputy state transportation director, said the state gave highest priority this year to projects that preserve and maintain existing facilities or improve safety.

But several committee members wondered why some projects included in previous years were left off the new list.

"The final phase of the Salt Lake Boulevard widening is badly needed, but it's not on the list at all," said Councilman Romy Cachola. "It's like you're rubbing salt into the wounds of people who have been waiting for more than 20 years for this project to be finished."

Rep. Mark Moses and others also complained that two key freeway interchange projects for the Makakilo area are not on the list.

State and city officials said they would reconsider and possibly revise the list before the OMPO Policy Committee takes a final vote on the projects July 20.

Big projects on city's agenda

Some notable transportation projects in the 2006-08 draft Transportation Improvement Program.

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