New city traffic management center to be nerve central

New building to house dispatch centers for first responders

 UPDATED 7:43 AM HST Jun 08, 2013
HONOLULU -

The current traffic management center is set up so that traffic engineers manage the daily flow of cars in and around Oahu.

Plans now are now to include state transportation personnel and key city responders.

"So, if there is a freeway closure, everybody is in the room to talk about how we are going to route traffic," said Transportation Services Director Mike Formby.     

The new $50 million home for the traffic management center will be on King Street next to the new Alapai Street parking structure.

Dispatchers for all the city's emergency services will be housed there as as well.

"It makes absolute sense and in the cities where they have done joint management planning, it has been very successful," said Formby.

But at a planning hearing Friday, a concerned citizen wondered in this post -911 world is putting such vital systems in one place and next to a bus transit center really makes good sense.

"Something simple could shut down the traffic management for fire, police, civil defense, the bus, and the train. Everything shuts down because of that one channel," said Honolulu resident Willie Holly.

The city says the plan isn't to dismantle communications that currently exist but to add a redundancy that's not in place now.

"So, theoretically it will be a more reliable system than what we have now," said Formby.

City officials say the building will be built with terrorist threats in mind.

But there are also questions about potential burial sites in an area that Holly calls a burial corridor.

The city says it did go above and beyond what was required to assess the area. Archaeologists did more trenching and used ground-penetrating radar and even cadaver dogs.

Holly still worries the city may have missed something.

"According to their own information in the Environmental Assessment, no trench work was done in the area where they are going to build that traffic management area," Holly said.

The plan calls for construction to start early next year and finish in 2016.

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