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  • James Brayden Guira

Skyline Rail Project Disrupts Local Businesses

At the start of 2024, local stores and businesses near Dillingham Boulevard started to become affected by traffic disruptions caused from the on-going construction of Honolulu’s rail transit project, Skyline. As a result of this, access to these establishments have become limited, and any potential noise and debris from nearby construction can deter customers from approaching their premises. As a consequence, many businesses have seen a huge decline in sales with some shutting down or even moving elsewhere all together. 

The owner of U-Kitchen, Yudai Fukudai, said he has seen a massive drop in customers. “Ever since construction started, our sales have gone down by like 60%,” said Fukudai. “Sometimes it takes around 30 minutes just to get to our stores. Customers aren’t able to come during their lunch break. So because of that, not as many customers are coming in.”

With the help of Honolulu City Council members, Tylor Dos Santos-Tam and Radiant Cordero and Mayor Rick Blangirardi, they signed Bill 40 into law. This grants businesses who have been affected by the rail to have the ability to receive up to $10,000 a year. Businesses must meet certain requirements in order to receive these yearly funds such as making less than $750,000 revenue annually, being within a block of the active construction, and having 15 or more employees.

While this is expected to help some of these establishments recover, the majority of business owners still think it’s not enough to keep them financially sustained. “It definitely helps, but it’s not enough to keep us in business,” said Fukuadai. “We’ll see what’s going to happen next but for now, we just hope we can recover.” The construction near Dillingham is said to be done by 2026, but depending on the circumstances, the deadline could be extended. 

A statement from the mayor said that the city is working with business owners to make plans to further help out local businesses and ensure something like this never happens again in the future.

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