HONOLULU (KHON2) — Parks over freeways, it is an idea that’s floating around and could be implemented on Oahu. They’re called Cap Parks.
“You basically put a ceiling over the highway so it turns into a tunnel,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads, (D) Nuuanu, Chinatown, Downtown.
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Big cities like Boston and Phoenix already have Cap Parks on freeways. Sen. Karl Rhoads believes it is an idea from which Hawaii can benefit.
“The federal government is looking at reconnecting community. So in a lot of places, including Hawaii, the freeways tend to split communities apart. Some people are probably aware of the example that Foster Botanical Gardens and Liliuokalani Garden used to all be the same thing and then when the freeway came through, they just cut it right in half,” said Rhoads.
Reconnecting communities and putting a cap on noise and dust is something residents say would improve living conditions.
“Considering people living right next to the freeway have to endure that loud constant traffic and everyone knows Hawaii we have a lot of cars here, right, so that causes a lot of noise and debris,” said Sean Fitzsimmons, Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board Vice Chair.
Sen. Rhoads says one of the possible Cap Park locations is above the H-1 Freeway between Queen Emma Street and the Nuuanu Stream.
“You can put other stuff up above it; and in this case, we were looking to put a park. There’s not a lot of park space in the downtown area,” Rhoads said.
Some members of the Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board support the idea of Cap Parks.
“It’s actually something that’s much needed in this urban development. The healthy sustainable green space that would connect the communities that are connected by the construction of H-1 Freeway,” Fitzsimmons.
While other neighborhood board members tell KHON2 they like the idea but want funding to go to cleaning up Chinatown from houselessness and crime instead. However, Rhoads says the current price is right with federal funding.
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“There will be federal funding. The Hawaii Department of Transportation has also indicated to me that the numbers that they gave me six or seven years ago are out of date and this kind of work can be done for less than it could be at that time,” Rhoads said.
An application for a federal planning grant was submitted by HDOT on Oct. 13.