A federal review found it takes three to four times as long for the average federal highway project to get started in Hawaii as compared with other states.
A Hawaii News Now investigation reported Thursday that $820 million worth of unused federal highway aid has been sitting in the coffers waiting to be spent in 2013, about five times the $160 million in highway funds the state gets from the federal government each year.
That number is down from the $940 million backlogged in 2011.
The federal review found that the average time a federally funded state highway project takes to get started in Hawaii is 350 days. That’s three to four times as long as nine other states, where it took an average of 80 to 100 days to go from federal project approval to giving the contractor a notice to proceed.
Gov. David Ige told Hawaii News Now that state highway officials have been meeting weekly with Federal Highway Administration representatives to tackle the state’s backlog.
"We’ve identified the bottlenecks and the areas that we are not performing well. We have a better understanding of why the state has done so poorly," Ige said.
Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said efforts are underway to fix the state’s highway project process.
"There have been efforts made to try to streamline the process, some that have been successful and some that have not been," Sakahara said. "And so we’re working with that process, first and foremost, to make sure there’s better communication with the Federal Highway Administration."