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Concerns arise over $150M repair plan

Council members have doubts the city can spend that much in a year, but the mayor remains confident

By Marcel Honoré / mhonore@staradvertiser.com

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:07 p.m. HST, Feb 13, 2014

20130309-4762 CTY WORST ROADS MCCULLYThis is the view of some areas of road on Wiliwili St. from King to Kapiolani in McCully.  This is one of the 50 worst roads that the city has designated to be fixed.  This road already seems repaved, but there is still construction going on around it and painting of the road markers still needs to be done.  This is on east side of Date St. where it intersects Wiliwili St. looking east.  There seems to be a pipe that the city wants to bury on Date Street and it will cross Wiliwili Street.  PHOTO BY DENNIS ODA.  MARCH 9, 2013.

Darrell Goo, vice president of operations for Grace Pacific Corp., has been with the company since 1992. The company is one of three contractors on Oahu bidding for city road repaving projects. He's never seen so much work out to bid for the city of Hono­lulu as there is right now.

Business is good. It's so good that Goo's not sure all the work available could even be done in a year.

"It's hard to answer because we've never done that much," Goo said. "Anything beyond $100 million, that's going to be a challenge."

<t-7>Much has been made of Mayor Kirk Caldwell's plan to spend $150 million in the next fiscal year to repave roads, an endeavor he had hoped to pay for with a gas tax increase. But some public officials have questioned whether the city could get all that spending out the door in a single year, converting all those dollars into smoother roads across Hono­lulu in a relatively short time.

"Last year we went to the budget … but the administration kept testifying against it," City Councilwoman Ann Koba­ya­shi said in February, referring to this year's road repair budget of $100 million. That's up from $77 million the prior year.

"They can't even do $77 million. How are they going to do $150 million?" Koba­ya­shi wondered.

On Wednesday, Councilman Stanley Chang contended that almost all of $100 million the Council earmarked last year for road repaving has yet to be spent. Caldwell disagreed, saying it simply takes time to process all the contracts.

Honolulu Department of Design and Construction Director Chris Taka­shige acknowledges he lobbied before the City Council against boosting this year's roadwork budget. He believed it called for more spending than the city could release in a year, facing low bids from the paving contractors on Oahu and the city's own limited staff.

Oahu motorists have long complained about the poor condition of our roads, prompting Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s new plans to spend $150 million to get ahead of the problem. The Star-Advertiser, along with media partner Hawaii News Now, takes an in-depth look at the state of our roads.

TODAY

>> Star-Advertiser: For years, city and state governments put off maintenance and repair of roadways and diverted funds to other priorities. Also, critics wonder whether the city can pull off its plan to spend big money on road repairs.
>> Hawaii News Now: Tonight, will a more expensive asphalt product keep our road repairs in place longer than the next heavy rain?

STARTING TUESDAY

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

However, so far they've been able to spend the cash, Taka­shige said, by breaking up big projects into smaller contracts, and by tightening the time constraints. "It's been working," Taka­shige said. "No doubt it's a struggle to spend those large amounts of money, but we did it."

If the city opts to spend $150 million, he might need to hire more staff to handle the volume — but it's hard to make the call "until I see the workload and the budget," he said.

Caldwell says he met with members of the operating engineers union before announcing his plan, and they assured him the work could be done. When he was managing director, Caldwell said, the city put out $188 million in roadwork in an 18-month period. That included work budgeted in earlier years that hadn't been done, members of Caldwell's staff said.

In the past week the city released five new jobs to bid worth about $40 million total, Goo said.

Caldwell was hoping that his proposed 5-cent gas tax increase would generate $15 million to help pay for the added road budget, but the City Council rejected it with a 6-3 vote Wednesday — raising questions of how Honolulu will find that amount.

The city will have to make up the difference using its general fund, Caldwell said.

———

Star-Advertiser reporter Gordon Y.K. Pang contributed to this story.






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what wrote:
Caldwell needs to re-think his plan. Don't treat the taxpayers as an ATM. The taxpayers have already paid more then enough money to have roads maintained, but the City raided the funds for other purposes. Pave the roads within the confines of the existing revenues, give us what we already paid for, even it takes a while. Stop raiding funds to pay for transit expenses, make transit riders pay a fair share of transit costs, don't raid road funds.
on March 25,2013 | 01:48AM
kiragirl wrote:
Amen.
on March 25,2013 | 01:53AM
OldDiver wrote:
?, Caldwell is not raiding funds. Private contractors will expand their operations if the city can provide them with a long term plan.
on March 25,2013 | 08:17AM
frontman wrote:
He's never seen so much work out to bid for the city of Hono­lulu as there is right now.....Elections are next year, so fix and pave those roads.
on March 25,2013 | 05:48PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Why fix the roads when EVERYONE will be using the rail in 2014?
on March 25,2013 | 04:02AM
OldDiver wrote:
Nonsensical statement.
on March 25,2013 | 08:16AM
loquaciousone wrote:
You mean NO ONE will be using the rail....that makes sense.
on March 25,2013 | 08:29AM
wiliki wrote:
Nope... makes sense because most will still be driving....
on March 25,2013 | 08:56AM
loquaciousone wrote:
HAH! You finally admitted it. Even with rail MOST will still be driving..
on March 25,2013 | 10:02AM
wiliki wrote:
That's not surprising. Many will NOT be driving. Future traffic congestion will not be a problem.
on March 25,2013 | 04:00PM
kahuku01 wrote:
IRT loquaciousone: You've come up with many positive comments but this one is not worth saying. If and when the construction of the rail system will commence, it will take another 10 plus years before it will be operational and 2014 is very unlikely or impossible. Realistically the roads must be repaired throughout the island especially where the rail will not be traveled unless you would prefer to disregard the maintenance of the roadways for the next 10 plus years? Not everyone will be using the rail system.
on March 26,2013 | 04:59AM
peanutgallery wrote:
The City has been collecting taxes on everyone forever. Vehicle registrations have quadrupled, and our roads still look like crapolla. Caldwell needs to be shown the door. Raising taxes again, isn't what Oahu needs. Fiscal management is, but that's not part of the Democrat mantra. Expanding government is. It's the reason the post office is in trouble
on March 25,2013 | 04:26AM
OldDiver wrote:
Are you in the parallel universe? Caldwell has been Mayor for two months.
on March 25,2013 | 08:17AM
wiliki wrote:
That's OK his short term memory is going going ... gone.
on March 25,2013 | 08:58AM
localguy wrote:
OD - Seems like forever, same ole same ole. Seen one dysfunctional bureaucrat, you have seen them all.
on March 25,2013 | 11:07AM
Kawipoo wrote:
He did not say that previous taxes were the result of Caldwell. He said Caldwell is raising them again. Go back to sleep Commie.
on March 25,2013 | 02:29PM
lynnh wrote:
He is no newcomer period! The fact that you would even say that show how out of touch you are. He was mayor before and second in command. He has been part of the politics for a long while. Why do you coddle this jack@#$?
on March 26,2013 | 01:01AM
geeknews wrote:
In the mainland they pave miles of road a day. In Hawaii they pave several 100 feet per day. Maybe its time the paving companies start putting down pavement like they do in the mainland.
on March 25,2013 | 05:21AM
Grimbold wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 25,2013 | 05:27AM
OldDiver wrote:
What you forget is many cities have alternative routes. This means they can block miles of roads at a time without causing major traffic problems. Where they don't have alternative routes they face the same constraints as we do.
on March 25,2013 | 08:22AM
wiliki wrote:
Yes IIRC once LA closed down 40 miles of freeway to make repairs. They worked day and nite, but people could use other roads and freeways.
on March 25,2013 | 09:00AM
lynnh wrote:
I know the project you are referring to and they finished it in half the time it is taking road crews in Kailua to do 5 miles Backed up traffic does not slow work on roads that cars are not sitting on. At least in other parts of the world it doesn't. With your logic, a traffic jam near your house would affect how fast someone mows your lawn.
on March 26,2013 | 01:16AM
localguy wrote:
OldDiver - You also forget is mainland companies have a higher quality of worker than we do. They do not work on "Island Time" They work harder, more efficient, do the job far better than our workers. To see Nei work, just drive down Kam IV highway by HPD/HFD station. Notice all the new potholes springing up after a recent repaving job. This should not have happened, yet in the Nei this is what they do.
on March 25,2013 | 11:09AM
lynnh wrote:
Prime example. Here in Kailua they improperly paved a 100 yard section of road and let traffic on it while they moved further down the road. Guess what... it collapsed under the weight of the cars and they had to go right back and rip it out again.
on March 26,2013 | 01:20AM
lynnh wrote:
You have not got a clue what you are talking about...period! You need to venture over to Kailua and see the joke of a job they are doing over here. The incompetence involved in the project is astounding. Ask anyone who lives here. it even made the news on how big of a joke and waist it is. Stop putting these people on a pedestal; no one here falls for you rubbish.
on March 26,2013 | 01:11AM
lynnh wrote:
The company that is doing a joke of a job in Kailua is a mainland company.
on March 26,2013 | 01:07AM
bender wrote:
I disagree somewhat. The private contractors do fairly well. You do need to differentiate betwen resurfacing an existing road which requires the contractor to keep traffic moving and the construction of a new road which doesn't have any impediments for the contractor.
on March 25,2013 | 06:42AM
ShibaiDakine wrote:
“…City Councilwoman Ann Koba­ya­shi said in February, referring to this year's road repair budget of $100 million. That's up from $77 million the prior year.” → She failed to mention that the amount allocated, $77 million was a capital outlay for REHABILITATION OF STREETS. Of the $77 million in FY 2012, $69 million was expended. It was not for MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR. The capital outlay for rehabilitation is necessary because the funding for maintenance and repair has, for well over a decade, never been adequate. This in turn allowed the infrastructure to deteriorate to the point where they need major rehabilitation. The reason for that is because the City Council and Administrations have been using the Highway Fund’s revenue to subsidize TheBus/HandiVan. Like the old Fram oil-filter commercial said, pay me now or pay me later. There should be no doubt that the capital outlays of $77 million; $100 million and $150 million would not be necessary if the Highway Funds were expended on their primary intended purpose, i.e., maintenance and repair. This is nothing short of gross negligence on the part of past and present council members and mayors. As for Councilmember Chang,’s contention that “…that almost all of $100 million the Council earmarked last year for road repaving has yet to be spent…”, he needs to or come up with his extraordinary source of knowledge so the rest of the council , administration and the public can be similarly enlightened.
on March 25,2013 | 05:53AM
Wazdat wrote:
We DONT WANT MORE SHODDY WORK DONE, HIRE SOME REAL PRO'S ALREADY.
on March 25,2013 | 06:07AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Yes those boys and girls who work for Grace Pacific, Road Builders etc are not professional. Get a grip man. The problem was when Hannemann and Harris would just order top coating of the major roads, laying down a 2 inch layer of asphalt just to make the roads look good before election. The problem was the roads needed to be reconstructed, the old asphalt removed and the underlying defects fixed. After a short period of time all of the defects returned, all the pot holes were just 2 inches deeper. Carlisle had the right idea, he started a lot of reconstruction jobs. Those jobs will last much longer and you can manage the maintenance o the road better once its been reconstructed.
on March 25,2013 | 06:53AM
wiliki wrote:
the above article says it all. Sometimes they just do a temporary fix because there are too many potholes to repair. Might as well resurface the road during the regular schedule-- that is during an election year. That's when record amounts of work gets done. Not surprising given that as the article above has noted... it takes time for the work to kick in after the contracts have been signed.
on March 25,2013 | 09:04AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
That's right, the CITY crews filling potholes are just doing that, filling potholes, and as the roads have continue to deteriorate, there are more and more to fill. Everyone knows that at some point in time the band aids gotta stop. You have to turn the big contractors loose and that is exactly what the City wants to do.
on March 25,2013 | 09:21AM
wiliki wrote:
When you have more money, then you can hire bigger contractors.
on March 25,2013 | 03:57PM
pridon wrote:
Grace Pacific owners getting ready to get a lot richer.
on March 25,2013 | 06:47AM
soundofreason wrote:
"Council members have doubts the city can spend that much in a year, but the mayor remains confident">>> I've SEEN how they can spend (waste). I have NO doubt.
on March 25,2013 | 06:48AM
McCully wrote:
I wonder how much the city collects from the gas tax and vehicle registrations. Of this amount, how much is being spend on roads maintence or is the money being spend on other city projects not related to the roads.
on March 25,2013 | 07:20AM
loquaciousone wrote:
yes
on March 25,2013 | 07:45AM
gsr wrote:
I needed a good laugh this morning and this story provides it. City/State having trouble spending money? LOL.
on March 25,2013 | 07:39AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Where is Rod Tam when you need him? We all need to take a nap.
on March 25,2013 | 07:45AM
Kawipoo wrote:
Rod Tam is taking Grace Pacific out to dinner on taxpayers money. He says it is city business but forgot he does not work for the city any more.
on March 25,2013 | 02:31PM
niimi wrote:
No concern at all if you're at Grace Pacific or one of the other two paving companies doing work for the county.
on March 25,2013 | 08:01AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
There is one - one - asphalt plant on Oahu. The material is imported from Canada. Now, does that sound like a problem to you when planning unprecedented miles of repairs? Uh huh.
on March 25,2013 | 08:02AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Remember when they "ran out of concrete" for the bus pads and when they did put them in, put them in 4 inches below grade?
on March 25,2013 | 08:15AM
localguy wrote:
They were using "Expanding Concrete" Someone forgot to put the "Expanding" mix in. Flopped like a bad cake in the oven.
on March 25,2013 | 11:11AM
loquaciousone wrote:
A yeast infection will do it every time.
on March 25,2013 | 11:56AM
localguy wrote:
L M A O
on March 25,2013 | 12:05PM
imallears wrote:
One asphalt plant that's closing down.... Wonder if we'll all be missing Tesoro in about 6 months?
on March 25,2013 | 06:24PM
Wahiawamauka wrote:
Yep, we will all be missing the refinery when all the fuels go through the roof.
on March 25,2013 | 06:59PM
lynnh wrote:
Another question is "why are they still using asphalt?" In Michigan they use a synthetic mixture that is far cheaper, easier to produce, and does not break down like asphalt. It handles higher summer temperatures than here and some of the coldest winters in the USA, and Michigan has some of the best roads in the country. Also, they pave the roads up there in a third or less of the time, and they are using granite, which is far harder to work with. And, most of the crews up there are Native Americans who have a very strong work ethic... unlike here.
on March 26,2013 | 01:29AM
Ewasohappy wrote:
"Council members have doubts the city can spend that much in a year, but the mayor remains confident." I don't agree with the first part of the sentence but, do agree with the rest.
on March 25,2013 | 08:09AM
wiliki wrote:
As Takashige says it's working... looks like Carlisle knew what he was doing. It takes time for the money to be spent even if the contracts are completed. Caldwell knows how to do it as well. Looks like the Council is real skeptical that the City can spend that much money.
on March 25,2013 | 08:55AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
wiliki wrote "Looks like the Council is real skeptical that the City can spend that much money."

Oh, spending money is easy. Just watch how fast HART does it. $1.2 million in yearly rent, subsidized parking and a team of in house public relations plus public relations contractors out the wazoo and change orders getting rubber stamped as soon as they come in.

What we would like to see in return for our money is results, and not more cold asphalt slopped into water filled holes.
on March 25,2013 | 12:28PM
wiliki wrote:
Disagree... Takashige cites the elaborate strategies the mayors have implemented to get the contracts signed off. Even the Council is skeptical that the money can be spent.
on March 25,2013 | 03:56PM
localguy wrote:
$150M road repair plan? With all the Nei inefficiencies, featherbedding, kickbacks, sweetheart deals, that much money will barely do 15 miles. Meaning about one years worth of work. If the local companies can't handle the work then put it out to bid for mainland companies. I seem to remember a stadium work contract local unions refused to touch, said they could not work so cheap. Mainland companies came in and did the work with no complaints. Seems like our local unions can be their own worst enemies. We can do better, when will we?
on March 25,2013 | 11:06AM
false wrote:
Something tell me that somewhere that the money involved here is about rail.
on March 25,2013 | 12:16PM
Kawipoo wrote:
Grace Pacific does not even know how to repair roads. They just lay new asphalt over the old and it starts cracking off after a year. Of course it is great business for them because they can continue to do the same thing over and over. Unfortunately Hawaii does not have enough asphalt pavers to tell Grace where to shove it.
on March 25,2013 | 02:28PM
lynnh wrote:
you're delusional!
on March 26,2013 | 12:59AM
lynnh wrote:
Actually, he is partly responsible for previous taxes. People seem to forget he had his hand in the pot before this term as mayor.
on March 26,2013 | 01:06AM
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