Oahu’s streets get sorry marks from likely voters, with only 1 percent ranking them as “very good.”
On the other end, 26 percent of those surveyed in the latest Hawaii Poll said Oahu streets are in “very poor” condition.
The Hawaii Poll asked likely primary voters to rank the condition of Oahu streets on a scale from 1 (“very poor”) to 5 (“very good”). A plurality of respondents, 38 percent, would not go so far as to say the island’s roads are “very poor,” but they came close, rating them only a 2 on a scale from 1 to 5.
Sandy Boc, 33, of Hawaii Kai, estimates that she racks up 800 miles a week on her 2015 Toyota Camry hybrid for her job as a field technician repairing point-of-sale machines and cash registers all over the island.
In general, Boc said, Oahu’s roads “are awful — tons of potholes,” adding, “It’s just horrendous. It’s not every part of the island, but downtown, Kalihi, Ewa, Ewa Beach are just horrible.”
The latest Hawaii Poll was conducted April 3-8 by Ward Research Inc. on cellphones and landlines, and included 401 likely primary voters on Oahu. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
While poll respondents blasted the condition of Oahu streets, they overwhelmingly support mounting cameras across the state that would take pictures of vehicles that run red lights.
Some 64 percent of respondents said “yes” when asked whether they think “using red-light cameras at intersections is a good idea.”
Charles “Carlos” Barboza, 73, lives downtown, where he frequently sees speeding drivers blowing through red lights.
“These cars come whipping by,” Barboza said. “We’re talking 50, 60 miles in a 25 mph zone. These guys are hauling okole.”
The threat of getting caught by a camera that would result in a fine would “definitely, definitely” deter red-light scofflaws, he said, and could lead to fewer accidents.
A bill headed for conference committee in the Legislature, SB 221, originally would have authorized Honolulu and the three neighbor island counties to mount cameras to take pictures of red-light violators. The registered owners of the vehicles would then be mailed a fine. The bill has since been amended to create a committee to look at the issue and report back to the Legislature in the next session.
The poor ratings the Hawaii Poll found for the condition of Oahu streets fly in the face of efforts by Mayor Kirk Caldwell since January 2013 to repave 1,447 lane miles of city streets so far — out of a total inventory of 3,517 lane miles.
Caldwell frequently hears complaints about poor road conditions on popular state highways and freeways that are under state control, said city spokesman Andrew Pereira. So it’s possible that drivers could blame the city for the condition of the H-1, H-2 and H-3 freeways; Pali, Likelike and Kamehameha highways; Ala Moana Boulevard; and other well-traveled roadways outside of the city’s jurisdiction.
State Department of Transportation officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The city is on pace to repave 1,500 lane miles by the end of the year, Pereira said.
Roads are selected for repaving based on a “pavement condition index” that was developed by mapping every city road with cameras and ranking them on a scale of 0 to 100. “That’s how we determine which roads to focus on first,” Pereira said.
At a cost of $650 million, Caldwell said, his administration has now repaved more miles of city roads “than ever before by any level of government,” adding, “I said we’d do 1,500 lane miles by the fifth year, and we will exceed that in the fifth year.”
But the results of the Hawaii Poll, Caldwell said, “reflects a sense that the roads still aren’t in a good-enough condition. Most of the roads we have repaved have been the smaller roads in subdivisions around this island, on every side of the island at this point, that have been neglected, some for as long as 50 years. And there’s gratitude for doing that. Everywhere I go, people say, ‘Thanks for paving our roads.’
“And yet some of the major thoroughfares on this island are still not repaved,” he said. “And yes, some are state like the Pali and Likelike, the highways — Kamehameha, Nimitz — those kinds of places. Farrington. But there’s also major thoroughfares that are city roads that have not yet been repaved, and in hindsight, perhaps we should have done those major thoroughfares first, but I went to the ones that were neglected the longest. I let the repaving guys decide, and I said, ‘You do it the way it should be done.’”
Nicholas Kanakanui, 23, of Kaneohe can’t wait to see the condition of Oahu’s streets get better.
He works on his 2010 Mazda3 himself and estimates that he’s spent $3,000 on parts and tools to fix brakes and tie rods, replace tires and realign his car, among other repairs that Kanakanui blames directly on potholes and other substandard roads.
Kanakanui, a private first class in the Hawaii Army National Guard, drives his four children, ages 7, 6, 5 and 3, all over the island for family activities — “anything from the zoo to the beach to hiking and surfing.”
Along the way, Kanakanui said, his Mazda has taken a beating. He knows the difference between city roads and state highways but sees little difference in their conditions. “Our roads,” he said simply, “are quite poor.”
Public poll on Oahu road conditions by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Scribd
Star-Advertiser reporter Gordon Y.K. Pang contributed to this report.