While spending the past summer in my native Wahiawa after a number of years away from home, I reacquainted myself with Oahu’s rush-hour traffic. Like too many West Oahu residents, I could spend upwards of an hour trying of find my inner zen between two-second bursts of acceleration and the subsequent jolting halts under the searing sun.

Someday, I tell myself during those moments of wasted time, our Hawaii will end traffic jams by embracing a smart, skyward plan of urban development that will pull people of all walks of life out from our suburban sprawl and into a vibrant metropolitan Honolulu.

This imagined Honolulu rivals New York, Tokyo, and London in the height of its buildings and its concentration of people of different backgrounds whose footsteps and heartbeats form the collective metronome of our new urban symphony.

We reach for the clouds in our architecture, transforming the area from Honolulu International Airport to Waikiki into our own Manhattan, where homes and offices soar above bustling street-level business and planned green spaces. In doing so, we have solved some of 2010’s pressing issues and created a better Hawaii for ourselves and those who will follow us.

Building upward has allowed us to overcome our limited supply of land and mitigate the high cost of housing, as multi-unit residences tend to be better priced than a suburban home. Though some were initially reluctant to embrace such a dramatic departure from the now largely forgotten “American Dream,” the price, convenience, health benefits, and action of our new Honolulu were simply too good to pass up.

The high concentration of our multi-talented work force in a small area has supercharged Hawaii’s economy by empowering new synergies and creating a robust market for goods and services. By looking to places like Silicon Valley, we have seen that geographic proximity can encourage “waves of innovation”.

Thanks to this focus of talent, multinational corporations from Asia, the mainland, and elsewhere have come to work alongside the plethora of mom-and-pop operations that have blossomed to accommodate a new, focused demand for restaurants, cafes, pubs, and retail establishments. The influx of currency into our economy from large-scale corporate sources has allowed these entrepreneurs to flourish: instead of being relegated to exile in a strip mall, enterprising cooks, barbers, and artisans can tap into a dynamic and burgeoning market.

Traffic, once a major sinkhole for time and anger, has become an historical artifact since most people who work in metropolitan Honolulu live close to their place of work. Given the close proximity, most people choose to walk or bike (on well-planned paths), with the remainder relying on our high-quality network of rail and supplementary bus routes. Cyclists enjoy a dedicated section of the expanded sidewalks, which replaced the now obsolete asphalt once devoured by cars. The elderly and individuals with disabilities enjoy greater independence and can now get to nearby amenities and medical care with relative ease.

Reducing urban sprawl has made Hawaii healthier. As the city grew, the number of cars fell, and with it the level of toxic emissions and traffic fatalities. Even as Honolulu’s nightlife provided ample drinking opportunities, the decreased level of driving and excellent public transportation have made DUI citations quite rare. With the extra hours formerly allotted traffic jams, we set out to the broad public bikeways and pedestrian paths, planned parks, or conveniently located gyms for exercise. When medical needs present themselves, living close to hospitals and medical services has proven advantageous.

Having arrested the growth of the suburbs, we have allowed our countryside to retain its verdant charm. Parks and sustainable agriculture have taken root on land once destined to house a phalanx of identical houses, the demand for which has all but vanished. Our success at creating a Hawaiian Tokyo in Honolulu while preserving rural spaces a short distance away has augmented our visitor industry, attracting party-goers, eco-tourists, and urban planning geeks; all of whom seek to marvel at what we have made of our Hawaii.

At the moment, an ultra-urban Honolulu is very much an imaginary product, as building upward, the core element of this vision, will require solving the chicken and egg dilemma of attracting residents by offering jobs and amenities. Could the private sector and government work together to help us create the urban space where the sky is literally the limit?

Luckily for me, I get to duck out now, as this is just an “Imaginarium.” At least for now.