Bridging Ford Island and Ewa would ease traffic congestion
There is no controversy that Oahu needs transportation solutions. Our challenge is finding the right solution for our community. There is no silver bullet -- no one-shot project that is going to solve it all. It is going to take many projects -- some big, some small -- working together to bring real transportation solutions to Oahu.
Today everyone in Central and West Oahu has only one major route into town, H-1. It doesn't matter if you are coming from Waianae, Kapolei, or Ewa on H-1 or from Central Oahu down H-2, everyone who lives west of downtown must go through the H-1 bottleneck.
We need a second access route for West Oahu into downtown, and crossing Pearl Harbor is the most logical path. The City Council is now looking at a proposal we introduced that extends the existing Iroquois Road from Ft. Weaver Road over Pearl Harbor. We are examining building two short bridges across the West Loch to the Waipio Peninsula and then to Ford Island to link up with the existing Ford Island Bridge. This route will connect directly to Kamehameha Highway at the stadium, providing West Oahu with a direct access to H-1 and Nimitz at Pearl Harbor and the airport.
This new route provides broad relief. Connecting Ford Island to the Ewa plain will take thousands of cars off of H-1 and improve traffic for Central Oahu drivers at the H-2 merge and Pearl City/Aiea drivers entering H-1. If we can use private funding and federal defense appropriations, we believe this project can be built in a fraction of the time, without any additional tax increase.
Recognizing this potential solution, the City Council budgeted money to study the feasibility of this Ewa to Ford Island route. As the city initiates its analysis of Oahu's mass transit solutions, we are asking that the mayor and his administration begin the process of examining this proposal.
We recognize that legitimate concerns raised by the Navy regarding the project need to be addressed and initial discussions already have been held with the Naval Command and our state's federal congressional delegation. We appreciate the military's openness and willingness to work with the city to find a sensible solution to our traffic woes. We believe this bridge project can provide the Navy with a vital link between Pearl Harbor and Kalaeloa, should the Navy locate an aircraft carrier in Hawaii.
If you look at a map of Oahu, connecting the Ewa plain to Ford Island simply makes sense. While it is separate from the potential big-ticket solutions of rail and HOT lanes, we look forward to analyzing this piece of the transportation puzzle that deserves attention.
Todd Apo is chairman and Charles Djou is vice chairman of the Honolulu City Council's Committee on Transportation. Apo represents West Oahu, and Djou represents East Oahu.