Teamwork at the state’s Department of Transportation

Posted on Oct 26, 2017 in Capitol Connection, Featured

Former HDOT director Ford Fuchigami (center) with deputies Darrell Young, Ed Sniffen, Ross Higashi and Jade Butay.

Consider the numbers: 15 airports, 10 commercial harbors, 2,500 miles of highway and 2,600 employees. That’s the Hawai‘i  Department of Transportation (HDOT).  Now add the airlines, shipping companies, big and small local businesses and thousands of residents who want to know when their road is going to be fixed. Welcome to HDOT’s world.

For the past six years, this also has been director Ford Fuchigami’s world — managing projects and listening to concerns. Starting this month Fuchigami will apply those skills in a new role — as Gov. David Ige’s administrative director — a job that includes working with departments and stakeholders to  develop recommendations. HDOT deputy Jade Butay has been named the new director, subject to Senate confirmation.

Hawaiian Air travelers arrive at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport after re-opening of Federal Inspection Service.

Before Fuchigami left his director’s post, he talked candidly about the multiple projects currently under way statewide for highways, harbors and airports and praised HDOT deputies and employees for delivering on Governor Ige’s priorities, including:
Reducing the backlog of highway projects in the federal “pipeline” to keep funds flowing to the state and its counties
Moving forward on airport and harbor modernization
Re-establishing the Federal Inspection Service facility at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport to receive travelers from other countries
Opening new airline routes, such as with Hawaiian Air and Japan Airlines
Attracting new carriers such as Southwest Airlines and others

What is the most important thing people should know about HDOT? “What we can do for each island is directly affected by funding,” Fuchigami explained. “HDOT doesn’t receive any general fund state taxpayer dollars. We’re self-supporting and depend on “user fees” such as the fuel tax and car registration fees for our state roads. The same is true for airports and harbors, for fees and leases. For highways, we’ve been out talking to communities to explain we’re doing what we can with the money we have.”

 

Read more in our November issue