From the governor: Keeping Hawai’i moving on all fronts

Posted on Oct 26, 2017 in Capitol Connection, Featured

Highways and bridges . . airports. . . harbors. As the nation’s only island state, Hawai‘i needs to maintain these  vital arteries that many of us take for granted. This issue of Capitol Connection focuses on how Gov. David Ige and the state Department of Transportation (HDOT) are delivering on his promise to improve roadways, launch major modernization projects for harbors and airports and maximize federal dollars to help communities statewide.

Gov.Ige praises major progress on Maui at Kahului Airport’s new Consolidated Rent-a-Car facility

Q. What do you want people to know about the progress we’re making on major transportation projects?

A. This is the core infrastructure of our state. I made it a priority to get projects moving that had been stalled for years. Most of the goods we need for survival come through our harbors. The airports drive tourism and create thousands of jobs. Roads are among the top concerns for every community. We’re finding cost-effective ways to improve traffic flow. Many people are surprised to learn HDOT doesn’t receive any state taxpayer funds to operate. They depend on user fees such as the gas tax and vehicle registration fees. The same is true of harbors and airports that rely on user fees, leases and other charges for revenue.

Q. Why are the harbor and airport modernization projects especially significant?

A. These projects are fundamentally important because they create jobs and allow us to make investments in two of the state’s most vital facilities. As a legislator, I voted to support harbor and airport modernization back in 2008, but the projects stalled. Now for Honolulu Harbor, we can look forward to more modern facilities with fair competition among shipping companies (Matson, Pasha and Tote). This means more shipping options for the business community, more jobs and more benefits for consumers.

Q. And what can we look forward to with the airlines and airports?

A. We’re moving forward with major projects at Kahului Airport and Daniel K. Inouye International Airport for long-overdue modernization, customer convenience and energy efficiency — especially for the terminals and car rental facilities, due to be completed by 2020. Southwest Airlines’ recent announcement that it plans to fly to the islands is the latest good news to expand travel options for kama‘aina and visitors, along with new routes for Hawaiian Air and Japan Airlines.

Q. What are you focused on when it comes to improving roads? (More HDOT news on Pages 2 and 3)

A. Our emphasis has been on preserving the roads we have, finding cost-saving ways to relieve traffic congestion and completing projects faster so we can continue to receive federal dollars. When we first came into office, the backlog of federally approved projects for Hawai‘i was too long so the federal government reduced our allocation. I asked HDOT to focus on projects we can implement more quickly because that directly impacts people’s quality of life. This partnership is important because the state’s share of a project is typically 20 percent of the cost, while the federal government pays 80 percent. Now HDOT is actually ahead of schedule in reducing the “pipeline” of funded work and recently received $41 million in additional federal funding.

Read more in our November issue