Making progress: HDOT counts the ways statewidePosted on Oct 26, 2017 in Capitol Connection, Featured
What has the Ige administration accomplished so far in transportation? Aging infrastructure is being addressed, and state Department of Transportation officials say the proof of progress is in some of the milestones reached in the last few months for highways, airports and harbors. “We know more needs to be done, but I do feel good about what we’ve accomplished so far, based on our strong bond ratings and solid management,” said the governor. Here’s an update on some of the projects:
1) Finished more highway projects for easier commutes – HDOT has done restriping and repaving to create contraflow and extra lanes in Windward and Leeward O‘ahu to alleviate traffic congestion. On the neighbor islands, projects such as the Lahaina Bypass on Maui is 60 percent finished, and the long-awaited final phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, on Hawai‘i island was completed last month. Faced with limited funds, HDOT is focusing for now on preserving existing roads. Although the state receives federal funds for projects, it still has to provide 20 percent of the cost. HDOT has proposed raising some of the user fees, such as the fuel tax, to fund more road projects.
2) Reduced federal “pipeline” backlog – Governor Ige’s number one priority is to reduce the backlog of federally approved projects and focus on highway projects that can be finished more quickly to help traffic flow and improve safety. As a signal HDOT is on the right track, the federal government recently awarded the state $41 million in additional federal funds because the department had a list of “shovel-ready” projects on Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i and O‘ahu. The department also helped Kaua‘i County win a $13.5 million federal highway grant for the Lihue Town Core Mobility and Revitalization Project.
3) Solidified HDOT’s federal-state partnership – The Central Federal Lands Highways Division has partnered with HDOT for up to $350 million in combined federal and state projects. This includes 13 bridges and highway improvements on several islands such as Saddle Road (now the Daniel K. Inouye Highway) on Hawai‘i island and the Lahaina Bypass on Maui. The Halona Bridge project went from groundbreaking to completion in nine months, on time and on budget. Also valuable is the “peer-to-peer” program where they work with HDOT engineers to train them in the latest technologies to streamline projects.
4) Launched the long-awaited Honolulu Harbor modernization project – The Kapalama Container Terminal (KCT) project set to begin this December expands cargo capacity for three major carriers: Matson, Pasha and TOTE Maritime. ”This means more shipping options for the business community and lower consumer costs, added jobs and millions of dollars invested in the community,” said Governor Ige. “I met personally with the shippers, and they were all very happy we’re finally moving ahead.”
5) Moved airport modernization forward – Some of the most visible ongoing projects are the car rental facility at Kahului Airport with an electric tram to deliver travelers and the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport’s new central rental car facility so passengers can jump on a universal shuttle instead of waiting for separate buses. Both energy-saving projects are funded through customer facility charges paid by rental car customers, not taxpayer funds. The Kahului project is planned for completion in 2019 and HNL in 2020.
Check the map for projects near you
If you’re wondering how HDOT decides what road to fix when, now there’s a map for that. It’s the Highway Project Status Map at hidot.hawaii.gov with some important new features, thanks to a trio of HDOT employees. They turned thousands of data sets on road conditions, traffic count and fatal crashes into something visual and understandable for the average person.
The map, color-coded for red (poor), yellow (fair) and green (good) conditions, is meant to help the public see how HDOT makes scheduling decisions on road projects statewide. “Highways deputy director Ed Sniffen wanted to show we’re making decisions based on the greatest need,” said Gina Belleau, who worked on the mapping with HDOT staffers Ron Dedrick and Goro Sulijoadikusumo. “HDOT wants to focus first on our worst areas for pavement conditions and roads used by a lot of people. Sharing this information with the public helps us be more accountable for how we’re using it.”