While five-story, 400-space parking garage above the Alapai Bus Transit Center is complete but stands empty, and it may be awhile before limited parking is made available.
"It's the most beautiful parking structure in the city, and it's sitting empty, and nobody can park there. So what's the deal?" asked one woman who says she walks by the structure at least twice a week.
It's a question being asked by many, particularly since the Alapai Bus Transit Center has been operating since May 25.
The parking structure at Alapai and King streets is the first phase of the Joint Traffic Management Center, which will bring together the city and state transportation agencies for a more unified management of traffic operation and incidents.
Right now, parking is reserved for employees who will work at the center, when it's built.
"The building, when it's built, will house the Department of Transportation Services, [the] traffic management center, the DOT management center, and [the] Honolulu Police Department, [the] Honolulu Fire Department and the Emergency Services, which is all their dispatchers," said Wayne Yoshioka, city transportation director.
Yoshioka said the design for the traffic management center should be done in about a year, then go out to bid with an operational date of 2015.
As for why the public is not allowed to park there in the meantime, the city transportation director says administrative changes must be made first.
A city ordinance has to be amended to designate it as employee parking before the city can charge for parking. Honolulu Police Department employees and transportation services workers have first priority for parking. Then, spaces are reserved for city Emergency Operations Center employees.
Any leftover spaces might be available for non-center workers, but even then, there are restrictions.
"We have to clarify with the Federal Transit Administration, because the land underneath all of this was acquired using federal funds. So we have be very careful who we allow to park in there," said Yoshioka.
The amendment to allow for employee parking is expected to be approved this fall.