Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Tuesday announced that more than 2,000 lane miles of roads in Honolulu have been repaved over the last five years and that fixing the city’s roads and potholes remains a high priority.
“This administration, when it came into office in 2013, one of our priorities, our commitment was to repave our long-neglected city streets,” said Caldwell from the top of Nipo Street in Manoa, which is slated for repaving. “We haven’t deviated from that priority.”
Caldwell said he committed to paving at least 300 lane miles every year at a cost of about $150 million annually to repave streets that had been neglected for 30 to 50 years, and that his administration has stayed the course.
“We’ve done this all around the island,” he said. “We haven’t just done it in the urban core. We’ve been on the West side, the North Shore, Waimanalo, Hawaii Kai, all over the place. The good news is we’ve exceeded our target. We said 1,500 lane miles within five years. We’re going to be finishing our six years, this administration, and we’ve now exceeded 2,000 lane miles as shown here by this chart.”
Caldwell disagreed with a recent report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group, that ranked Honolulu No. 5 on a “Top 20” list of large, urban areas across the U.S. with the highest share of major roads and highways in poor condition.
In its report, TRIP, a nonprofit sponsored by insurance and transit engineering businesses, examined pavement conditions, vehicle operating costs and transportation funding in mid-size and large urban areas across the U.S. It said more than half, or 54 percent, of Honolulu’s major roads and highways are in poor condition.
San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., took the top spot in the ranking, with 71 percent of its roads and highways in poor condition, followed by San Jose, Calif., with 64 percent, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., with 57 percent, and Milwaukee with 54 percent.
TRIP also ranked Honolulu No. 8 in highest average yearly vehicle operating costs, at $851, as a result of driving on roads in need of repair. Data for the report were pulled from the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) 2016 annual survey of state transportation officials and based on a uniform pavement rating index.
Caldwell said he thinks the report’s results would be different if it included more recent data and looked at city streets. He also questioned which roads were actually measured. The city has jurisdiction over 3,517 lane miles of roadways throughout Oahu — 57 percent of which have been repaved.
“How we measure our success is, one, we know how many lane miles we repaved, and you can go look at them yourself and they’re in good shape,” he said. “They’re smooth and beautiful. But we also measure by how many potholes we filled.”
The city administration in 2013 filled in 48,000 potholes, and that number has been dropping steadily over the years because streets have been paved, he said. So far this year the state has filled in 16,000 potholes.
But the city is not done, and more streets in Honolulu still need to be paved, he said, including South King Street in front of Honolulu Hale, Punchbowl Street and parts of Chinatown and downtown.
Honolulu Facility Maintenance Director Ross Sasamura said the city is also focused on preventive maintenance by using crack seal, slurry seal and seal coating to extend the life of a street beyond five to seven years.
In response to the report, state Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said that since 2016 the state’s Highways Division has continued to focus on system preservation projects to make the best use of limited funding. The state allocates 90 percent of available funding to improving existing infrastructure.
State preservation projects include the reconstruction of roads and replacement and rehabilitation of bridges.
“To ensure pavement sections last longer, we are removing pavement and weakened base layers prior to reconstruction,” he said, “using concrete pavement in additional areas to extend life, and performing pavement preventative maintenance to seal the roadways and add a layer of protection.”
The state also has delivered or begun repaving projects on the H-1 freeway and Farrington, Kalanianaole, Kahekili, Nimitz, Pali and Likelike highways, in addition to Kalihi Street, Kunia Road and Mokapu Saddle Road. Statewide, he said, the department has improved 400 miles of state roadways.
The public can report a pothole on city streets by calling 768-7777 or visiting honolulu.gov/dfm/pothole.