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Report: Hawaii has worst highways in nation

  • Craig T. Kojima /
    The end of summer break meant an uptick in traffic Monday morning as the University of Hawaii at Manoa and some private schools reopened for students. The H-1 freeway

A new study says Hawaii has the worst-performing highways in the nation.

The report by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank in Los Angeles, said Wednesday that Hawaii also has the least cost-effective highway system. It also ranked Hawaii among the worst for congestion, deficient bridges and pavement conditions.

The group says Hawaii spent $90,000 on administrative costs for every mile of state road, expenses that could be siphoning money away from road repairs. By contrast, Texas spent less than $4,000 and Kentucky spent less than $1,000 per mile on office costs, according to the study.

Republican state Sen. Sam Slom said Hawaii’s residents are overtaxed.

"It’s not a question of lack of revenues or lack of resources, but it is a question of how much we pay and how much we get for what we pay for," Slom said. "I know we could be doing a much better job. But I think there’s a lack of oversight in terms of how the money’s doled out and what the results are."

Road conditions are the number one complaint of Hawaii residents, Honolulu city Councilman Stanley Chang said.

"I think a big reason for that is years of deferred maintenance … we have to catch up now," Chang said. The city and county of Honolulu are in the midst of a five-year plan to repave 300 miles of roadways per year, so conditions are improving, he said.

The study, which is released every year, is based primarily on 2012 data, so recent improvements would not be reflected in the results. It used spending and performance data submitted by state highway agencies to the federal government, and it reviewed changes that were made since 2009. Hawaii was the only state where the conditions of rural roads worsened significantly.

"The state of Hawaii in the last two years has made it a priority to improve our highway system including widening our major roadways, rehabilitating our bridges and improving motor safety," said state Rep. Ryan Yamane, chairman of the transportation committee, through a spokeswoman.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie declined to comment through a spokesman.

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