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Limited road-repair funds hamper Portland

By Marcel Honoré /

LAST UPDATED: 7:09 p.m. HST, Feb 13, 2014

As Honolulu appears to finally shift into high gear to rid its roads of widespread potholes, other cities are grappling with how to do more with less as they maintain their streets.

Over the past four years, Portland, Ore., has spent an average of $17 million to maintain its 4,800 lane-miles of road.

"It's not enough," Portland Bureau of Transportation spokes­woman Cheryl Kuck said of Portland's road-repair budget. "This is something that's certainly national, if not global, that every jurisdiction is struggling with: how to meet the needs of an expanding system and maintain and take care of what you already have."


» Click Here | An updated listing of Hawaii's road conditions that are in failed and serious condition. (Courtesy Office of the Mayor.)


» Star-Advertiser: New city data detail the condition of Oahu’s roads and find that nearly 28 percent range from “poor” to “failed.” Also, what materials go into making our roads.

» Hawaii News Now: Tonight, an in-depth look at two City Council districts that need the most work.


» Star-Advertiser: For years, city and state governments put off needed maintenance and repair work on roadways and diverted funds to other priorities. Also, critics wonder if the city can pull off its plan to spend big money on road repairs.

» Hawaii News Now: Will a more expensive asphalt product keep our road repair in place longer than the next heavy rain?


For nine days the Star-Advertiser will print full-page maps of each City Council district highlighting road conditions in each area.

Honolulu, by contrast, has just over 3,500 lane-miles of road and proposes spending $150 million in each of the next five years.

Similar to Honolulu, Portland completed a citywide survey of its road conditions last year and is using new computer software to help determine its roadwork priorities.

Even with those steps, Portland road maintenance officials must compete for limited city budget dollars. Those dollars often go to other projects that get more public visibility instead of the more basic, everyday functions like roadwork that help keep cities going, Kuck said.

"We have a number of competing needs" for those dollars, such as new bike lanes and pedestrian paths, she said.

The Portland transportation bureau was aware of Hono­lulu's proposed nine-figure push for annual street work because its interim director recently visited Oahu, she added. The department will be watching Hono­lulu closely to see how the road maintenance effort plays out, Kuck added.

"We'd like one of those," Kuck said, referring to Hono­lulu's proposed annual budget.

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