Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Monday, July 28, 2003

Lake weed put
pothole repairs
off schedule

Question: My concern is with the state Department of Transportation's "pothole patrol," where they invite people to call in and report potholes so they can fix them. I don't expect they can respond immediately, but the last couple of times I've tried them, it's been weeks and nothing has been done. In particular, the area between Castle Junction and Kapaa Quarry Road going toward Kailua -- there must be nine to 10 large potholes, particularly in the right lane. It's a virtual obstacle course. I called in early June, waited a week, called again, then called again. It really seems like the hot line is not working. What is happening with the "pothole patrol"?

Answer: The Pali potholes were finally repaired two weeks ago, DOT spokesman Scott Ishikawa said Friday.

It generally takes about two weeks after a pothole report is called before repairs are made, unless the potholes are severe, he said.

But the "pothole patrol," as you found out, is way behind schedule. At one point the DOT was facing a 2 1/2-month backlog in pothole repairs. That's because truck drivers and other workers were reassigned to help battle the Salvinia molesta at Lake Wilson, while three of the six-person pothole crew were recovering from injuries, Ishikawa said.

With a hiring freeze in effect, there probably won't be any increase to staff in the near future, he said.

We asked Ishikawa to explain how the "pothole patrol" works.

Generally, six people are required for pothole repairs for safety reasons, including helping to direct traffic. In areas like the North Shore where traffic is not heavy, "we can get away with four people for pothole duty," Ishikawa said.

Because of other road maintenance assignments throughout the week, pothole repairs are usually scheduled for Fridays. The "pothole patrol" handles about 25 repair assignments and complaints a month, with one assignment sometimes involving multiple potholes.

"That number doubles when we have heavy rains and the water seeps into the road, cracking up the asphalt," Ishikawa said.

Because of the backlog and staff shortage, a supervisor does determine which potholes to handle first, based on how deep, how many in the same area, etc., he said.

The DOT has two numbers to call for potholes on state roads and highways: 536-7852 and 831-6714. Ishikawa said that sometimes the state gets calls about potholes on city streets, which are referred to the city Department of Transportation Services. The number to call for city potholes is 527-6006.

Q: When you're traveling mauka on Lunalilo Home Road and want to make a left turn onto Wailua Street, people have no chance to make that left turn, especially in the morning. Please have the city's traffic light division look into this.

A: A left-turn signal will be installed on Lunalilo Home Road at Wailua Street before Kaiser High School starts in the fall, according to the city Department of Transportation Services.

It's part of the planned roadway improvements by the Peninsula subdivision ("Kokua Line," April 1).


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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