Troubled bridges over island waters


POSTED: Monday, November 23, 2009

More of Hawaii's bridges are in need of modernization than bridges in most other states, according to an annual survey of state and county bridges by Better Roads magazine.

About 38 percent of highway and road bridges in Hawaii are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to the magazine read by government and construction industry officials. It s the fourth-highest percentage in the country, behind the District of Columbia (55 percent), Rhode Island (53 percent) and Pennsylvania (39 percent).

The national average is 24 percent, with Nevada having the fewest structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges at 11 percent.

“;Hawaii's bridges are generally in fair to good condition and they are safe,”; said Tammy Mori, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman, in an e-mail. “;When a bridge is on our structurally deficient or functionally obsolete list, it does not mean that the bridge is dangerous.”;

Better Roads said out of 1,175 bridges in Hawaii, 297 state and 149 county bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Of the state bridges on the list, 50 are considered structurally deficient, Mori said. Those bridges are “;closely monitored and they are safe,”; she said.





        About 38 percent of Hawaii's bridges are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, but the state and counties have been making progress on repairs. About half of Hawaii's bridges needed upgrades in 2000.
































 Total bridgesNeed upgradesPercent of total



 Total bridgesNeed upgradesPercent of total



Source: Better Roads magazine's Bridge Inventory





On Oahu about 40 bridges not on state highways are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, said Collins Lam, deputy director of the city's Design and Construction Department.

Ten bridges are structurally deficient, Lam said. All of the city's 210 bridges are inspected at least every two years, and the city spends about $7 million a year repairing and maintaining them.

Lam said the city is either repairing or planning to repair all 10 bridges and might need to increase its budget in the next few years to pay for modernization.

Cost and the time it takes to get the necessary permits appear to be factors in the backlog of upgrades.

In some cases, rural communities prefer to preserve older, obsolete bridges rather than build new ones that might bring more traffic and development.

But during the last several years, the state has made some progress in reducing the backlog of bridges in need of repairs.

At the beginning of the decade, the Better Roads bridge survey counted 548 bridges, or 51 percent, of the county and state bridges as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

A 13-mile stretch of Hana Highway between Hana and Kipahulu provides an example of the costs and problems of upgrading bridges.

Milton Arakawa, Maui County's Department of Public Works director, said the county and the state share maintenance of the road. That part of the highway has 14 county bridges built between 1910 and 1920, Arakawa said.

The county came up with a plan to modernize the bridges in 2001. But the community did not want to see the historic one-lane bridges changed, and the federal government would not pay for the upgrades unless the bridges met modern standards to accommodate two lanes of traffic.

A compromise was worked out eventually, and the county recently upgraded Paihi Bridge for $3.7 million and is now working on the Papahawahawa Bridge at an estimated cost of $5.6 million, Arakawa said. The county is planning a third bridge upgrade at Kaholopoo Stream for about $4.2 million.

Mori said the state spends about $20 million to $25 million a year in federal funds for its bridge program. In the last five years the state has been able to build, rehabilitate or replace about two bridges a year, and is up to date with its inspection program.

House Transportation Chairman Joe Souki is pushing to raise gasoline and vehicle taxes to pay for $4 billion in bridge and roadway upgrades.

The plan to raise taxes when the economy improves was also supported by Gov. Linda Lingle and Senate Transportation Chairman J. Kalani English.

It would cost the average taxpayer about $170 a year. State Transportation Director Brennon Morioka said in January that without additional funds, it would take 30 years to pay for the billions of dollars in needed highway and bridge upgrades.

“;If you don't have the money, you can't hire people to fix the bridge,”; Souki said. “;You can't do it without raising the tax.”;

The bill failed to pass in the last Legislature, but Souki said he will try and revive it next year.





        These 10 city bridges are considered structurally deficient. Another 30 are functionally obsolete. Repairs to Numana Road Bridge have begun, and work is expected to start soon on Kawailoa Road Bridge. The city is in the design phase of repairs to Puowaina Drive Bridge and plans to start design work on the remaining bridges next year.





























BridgeYear Built
Lusitana Street1913
Numana Road1969
Kahala Avenue No. 21929
Kawailoa Road1925
Kalihi Street No. 31942



BridgeYear Built
Fern Street1931
Puowaina Drive at Auwaiolimu Street1936
Salt Lake Boulevard1968
Waaloa Way No. 41963
Waaloa Way No. 21965






        The state says it plans to rehabilitate 13 bridges along Kamehameha Highway over the next six years at a cost of $78.1 million.

North Kahana Stream$13.3 million
South Punaluu$16.2 million
Kaipapau Stream$15.9 million
South Kahana Stream$12.5 million
Kaluanui Stream$8.5 million
Kawela Stream$9 million
Laieloa Stream$2.5 million
Waiahole Stream$9.7 million
Waipilopilo Stream$3 million
Waikane Stream$9 million
Makaua Stream$6 million
Kawailoa Stream$2.4 million
Hoolapa Stream$5 million







Features IntersectedFacility Carried
Hilo Plt Rd (Hwy Up)Plantation Rd
Waiaka StrmHawaii Belt Rd
Niulii StrmKawaihae-Mahukona
Moanalua Rd(HIC #7)Ramp Ew
Lakeside #2-Ala AolaniNorth Frontage Rd
Waipilopilo StrmKAM HWY
Maakua Strm-MuliwaiKam Hwy
Papau Strm-WaipuhiKam Hwy
N Kahana StrmKam Hwy
Unmd Strm(Dbl 10x5 CBC)Kam Hwy
Pensacola Relief DrainAla Moana Blvd
Maipalaoa StrmFarr Hwy
Mailiilii StrmFarr Hwy
Unmd Strm(Makaha #3)Farr Hwy
Unmd Strm(Makaha #3A)Farr Hwy
Ulehawa StrmFarr Hwy
Up Poamoho StrmKam Hwy
Farrington Hwy-WaiawaKam Hwy
Kapalama CanalHalona St
Manoa Palolo Strm (King)South King St
FAI-H1(Makakilo Sep)Makakilo Dr
Panakauahi 3-144”; CulvtFAI-H2
Waikakalaua StrmFAI-H2(O.B.)
Waikakalaua StrmFAI-H2(I.B.)
Waiawa Strm & Rd #14FAI-H2 WIC #14
3-84”;RCP CulvtKapaa Quarry Access Rd
Kawa StrmKaneohe Bay Dr
Hanapepe RiverKaumualii Hwy
Nawiliwili Str/Lihue MKaumualii Hwy
Waioli StrmKuhio Hwy
Waipa StrmKuhio Hwy
Waikoko StrmKuhio Hwy
Honolua StrmHonoapiilani Hwy
Waiale DrKaahumanu Ave
Kaahumanu AveNaniloa Dr
Kailua StrmHana Hwy
Nailiilihaele StrmHana Hwy
Kaaiea StrmHana Hwy
Puohokamoa StrmHana Hwy
Punalau Strm(Kolea)Hana Hwy
Honomanu StrmHana Hwy
Waikani StrmHana Hwy
West Wailuaiki StrmHana Hwy
East Wailuaiki StrmHana Hwy
Kopiliula StrmHana Hwy
Kapaula StrmHana Hwy
Hanawi StrmHana Hwy
Kuhiwa StrmHana Hwy
Honomaele StrmHana Hwy