Hawaii’s highways rank in bottom 5, says group
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The state's highway system was the fifth least cost-effective among all states in the country, according to a study released yesterday by the Reason Foundation, a think tank based in Los Angeles.
The ranking compares the amount of money each state spent in 2005 on its freeways and highways with its performance, measured in the condition of the roadways and bridges, degree of congestion, fatality rates and percentage of narrow lanes.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa said the state has spent more than $100 million on roadway improvements since summer 2004 and more are planned.
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Hawaii ranked among states with the least cost-effective highway systems in a study released yesterday.
The study, financed by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian public policy research group, said factors included the level of expenditures, narrow lanes in rural areas, deficient bridges and the condition of the freeway in the urban core.
Here is a state ranking of highway conditions by the the Reason Foundation. Researchers evaluated roadways by traffic fatality rate, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance and administrative costs.
1. North Dakota
2. South Carolina
4. New Mexico
47. Rhode Island
48. New York
50. New Jersey
Other factors in the rankings include urban federal-highway congestion and fatality rates.
In 2005, Hawaii spent the fifth-highest amount of money to build and maintain each mile of highway, but also had the fifth-highest percentage of bridges in poor condition and the fourth-highest percentage of narrow rural lanes. The state also had the highest percentage of urban federal-highway miles in poor condition.
The study used data reported by the states.
Based on the 2005 data, the ranking is fair, said Scott Ishikawa, state Department of Transportation spokesman.
But he said the state has spent more than $100 million repaving state highways and freeways following the heavy rains in 2004, including Moanalua Freeway, Highway, Ala Moana Boulevard, Likelike Highway, Kamehameha Highway and Kalanianaole Highway.
"We really have done a lot of repaving," Ishikawa said. "But we still have a lot of work to do."
Projects scheduled to begin this year include repaving the H-2 freeway's Mililani and Ka Uka interchanges and Kamehameha Highway between Wahiawa and Mililani.
The 2004 study ranked Hawaii's state highway system the seventh least cost-effective in the country.
"I'm curious to see the results of the next annual report, to see if we move up," Ishikawa said.
Ishikawa said many of the state's bridges need upgrading but some, including the Hanalei Bridge on Kauai and those on the way to Hana on Maui, are listed as deficient because the community wants them to remain one-lane.
Craig Wasser, who is visiting from Oregon, said what he noticed about the H-1 freeway is, "How quickly the lanes narrowed from three lanes, all of a sudden you're two lanes under a bridge, then all of a sudden they widen out again."
He said that in Oregon the roads are wider and the state is continually widening them.
Oregon had the eighth most cost-effective state highway system in 2005, according to the study.
Pete Turro, from New Jersey, said the roads to Oahu's North Shore are narrow and have few lanes. He said he did notice ongoing road projects, but he said they don't seem to be keeping up .