Public participation encouraged as rail work heads toward town

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It might not be today or tomorrow, but rail and the construction that comes along with it could be headed for a neighborhood near you.

Recently, viewers complained about the late night work that crews were doing on Kamehameha Highway in Aiea, but it’s not stopping there.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has already applied for a noise variance for work between Honolulu International Airport and town.

Last month, Aiea residents complained to KHON2 about the drilling and hammering going on into the wee hours of the morning. Crews were doing rail work on Kamehameha Highway near a residential complex.

At the time, KHON2 found out the state Department of Health has a noise section that allowed HART’s contractor to do night work. But when they hear about complaints, “we sent out people too just to check it,” said state noise section supervisor James Toma.

Even though rail work has been spread between Kapolei and Aiea, the state says HART has already applied for a noise variance for work in the airport area and beyond, including heavily populated Kalihi.

The majority of people KHON2 talked to in Kalihi say they’re dreading the construction noise, but also feel there’s nothing they can do about it.

“It’s already noisy to begin with. Every morning I wake up to the trash can, the trash trucks coming around,” said Kalihi resident Felix Salinas.

But the state says every time a contractor applies for a noise variance, the contractor is required to hold a public meeting to tell people what they can expect and to answer concerns.

“When it comes to the noise variance, there’s always something they can do about it and that’s just letting us know, showing up and participating at the public meetings,” Toma said.

“Is that something you would participate in?” KHON2 asked.

“No, because they made their decision. We as taxpayers, we don’t have any say,” said Charlene Pacheco, who works in Kalihi.

“Yes, I would. I think the more people voice their concerns, the more they’ll listen possibly,” said Kalihi resident Charlene Salinas.

If a contractor fails to address valid questions or concerns, the state can decide not to grant a noise variance or ask the contractor to amend it. Public participation, according to Toma, makes a difference.

Even after a variance is granted, you can contact HART with your concerns via email at info@honolulutransit.org or by phone at (808) 566-2299.

You can also call the state’s noise section at (808) 586-4700.

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