Oahu’s lack of lane miles leaves motorists in a jam
It appears to me that the state Department of Transportation has abandoned one of its core functions, which I thought was to ensure that the state create and maintain an adequate supply of roads to accommodate and serve its people. And if the department itself could not generate an adequate supply of roads, then at least it would advocate a position trying to accomplish just that.
Think about the days when the DOT planned ahead and provided Kaneohe folks with four independent routes to get to town -- Kalanianaole Highway, Pali Highway, Likelike Highway and the H-3 freeway. In comparison, residents of West Oahu possess only one major route to get to town, yet the DOT of today has set aside zero dollars in its budget to change that.
On its Web site, the U.S. Department of Transportation (see below for link) ranks Honolulu at the bottom in the amount of roads available for its people, providing only 1.5 lane miles per 1,000 residents, compared to Birmingham, Ala., at 6.9 lane miles per 1,000 residents. It is evident that Honolulu is lane deficient and its landscape devoid of the connectivity necessary to promote the efficient transfer of goods, services and people.
We know the H-1 will undergo some small cosmetic changes over time, more like a nip-and-tuck, but, overall, offers the same amount of freeway lane miles for the end user through the year 2030. This is unacceptable.
DOT, please get in the ring to win the fight, because for the motorist, it appears the referee has counted to 10 already and you aren't the one standing.
That is how I see it. Funding projects could be likened to a boxing match. Only in this case, the governor's administration won't throw a punch demanding the Legislature fund another freeway for West Oahu. In 2005, the Legislature sent up to the governor a knockout request for $200,000 to explore the possibilities of constructing another freeway using the ocean as a right of way. The Legislature made it clear that Oahu is in a transportation crisis and went into the ring prepared to justify the tunnel concept as a legitimate blow.
The Oahu Regional Transportation Plan from 1991, and even the estate of James Campbell decades ago, had referenced an underwater tunnel to connect the Ewa plain with Honolulu as a viable option to keep pace with the population growth expected. The military has acknowledged that the ability to tunnel at depths using reinforced structures potentially could work and has accommodated the tunnel concept so long as the portals and entry to them are clear of military property. The DOT, however, refuses to even agree with the tunnel concept approved by the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization's Policy Committee. Not one punch thrown by the DOT in support of the tunnel.
So as the referee gets ready to pronounce the fight over, just before the number 10 is called out, remember this: The governor has until the end of June 2008 to initiate the tunnel concept; after that, the $200,000 appropriation lapses. Until then, maybe the motoring public should ask Rocky to fight its battles for them instead. They could do no worse.
Tom Berg is a member of the Ewa Beach Neighborhood Board. He works as the office manager for state Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D, Waipahu-Ewa).