REPORT FROM THE SENATE MAJORITY – HONOLULU, HAWAII –With 756 state-owned bridges in Hawai‘i, the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs is taking a closer look at the condition and integrity of the structures. The Department of Transportation (DOT) presented the committee with a report that included an analysis of the safety, utility and structural standards of these bridges during an informational briefing on January 19, 2012.
“We’re trying to get ahead of the process and take a look at how the 756 state bridges are ranked in order to plan for the care and preservation of these vital structures,” said Senator J. Kalani English, Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs. “Bottom line, we are trying to take a proactive approach and take care of the bridges before a catastrophic event or a natural disaster takes place,” he added.
According to DOT’s report, there are about 39 structurally deficient bridges. Seventeen of those bridges have been programmed for replacement or rehabilitation. Meanwhile, there are 250 functionally obsolete bridges. Hana Highway, along route 360, has the highest percentage of deficient bridges mainly because of their inability to support legal truck loads (posted at 10-tons) and their narrow one-lane bridges. To address issues concerning Hana Highway, the DOT initiated a project called, the Hana Highway, Bridge Preservation Plan.
“We are not only looking at bridges in Hana but at bridges across the state. However, bridges along Hana Highway need a majority of the attention because of their condition. The bridges are life lines for those living in Hana,” said Senator English, who represents Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and Kaho‘olawe. “We will work with the community before major work begins.”
The DOT receives $20M annually in funding to maintain bridges statewide. However, the department needs $750-800M to do the job.
“The Senate will try to find ways to increase funding that would accelerate maintenance programs in order to prevent fatalities and the disruption of motorists’ and residents’ lives,” said Senator English.