Dillingham businesses brace for impact as HART attempts to ease construction pains

Local News

The rail isn’t going to make it’s way to Dillingham Boulevard any time soon, but HART is already meeting with businesses in the area to talk about what impact the project could have.

HART CEO Dan Grabauskas met with around 60 local business representatives on Tuesday from the Dillingham Area.

This is just the first step in HART reaching out to the downtown community to talk about possible closures and how to keep the effect on local businesses as minimal as possible. HART did the same thing not too long ago in Waipahu and Pearl City setting up a program to try to help local businesses while construction was going on.

As the rail makes it’s way down Kamehameha highway in Pearl City and Aiea, local business owners like Lisa Matsuo of Shiro’s Saimin Haven have had to do whatever they can think of to stay in business. “You just have to be really flexible and do your own promotions.”

Matsuo says HART’s Shop and Dine on the Line program has fallen flat, and sales are still down $15,000 from this time last year. At a meeting with business owners in Dillingham, HART executive director Dan Grabauskas said he’ll meet with businesses as often as he has to, in order to keep them informed.

He aknowledged there will be an impact. “I think first thing is to admit there are going to be impacts. Will be a disruption and we will just like when road repaving. People had to dealt with, only difference is longer duration.”

Dillingham business owner George Nitta of Nitta’s auto repair says he’s preparing for the worst, “My son and I are looking at closing the whole thing down and moving to another island, or maybe to Las Vegas. Friends in Vegas moved from Hawaii and said it’s the best thing they ever did.”

The owner of Shiro’s says there’s no doubt businesses will feel the effects of the rail project. “They’re going through what we went through. It’s going to come as a complete shock to them what’s going to happen. If it goes to Dillingham that’s like the hub of the entire island. Maybe I’m just a worry wart but I really can’t see anything good coming from this from this point on.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.