While the Hawaii State Legislature is on break until next January, state Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D- District 42, Honouliuli, Ewa Beach, Ewa Villages, West Loch Estate, Lower Waipahu) has taken up the cause to gain support for HB70 HD3 that would provide for a means to create more roads that government cannot afford to build. The bill contains language that would allow the private sector to build roads and collect a toll from the end user to pay for the construction costs.
As it stands, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken the position to get out of the highway building business for West Oahu after it has completed the North-South Road in Ewa and a few minor improvements planned for the near future. Since 1959, when Congress allocated 50 miles of interstate freeway paying ninety-percent of the costs to construct the H-1, H-2, and H-3, nothing has been done for the motorist by the State to increase the carrying capacity of our interstate system outside of a minor nip-and-tuck here and there. A direct quote from the Department of Budget and Finance to the state Legislature this year reads, “The Highways Division has moved towards using various alternatives in lieu of building more highways.” Interpretation- bike, walk, telecommute, change jobs, car pool, take mass transit, everything but aid the motorist in preserving their choice of travel.
The campaign to garner public support for the creation of more freeway lane miles and to put pressure on the state Senate to do something about traffic congestion began with a presentation to the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Citizen Advisory Committee (OMPO CAC) on July 18 at Honolulu Hale. The newly elected chair of the OMPO CAC, Charles Carole, wasted no time in scheduling Rep. Cabanilla for his first meeting to address the transportation crisis.
“OMPO CAC Centered”
“We are lane deficient, lacking a sufficient number of both highway and freeway lane miles to accommodate the population growth being planned for and rank at the bottom nationally in this category” stated Cabanilla.
With OMPO CAC members fully aware that the level of service on the H-1 freeway has been graded by transportation and engineering experts from around the country with a level of service “F,” meaning traffic conditions at below national average speeds- or just plain deplorable, sitting on the sidelines is not an option for many OMPO CAC members.
Scott Belford, representing the Ewa Neighborhood Board on the OMPO CAC, commented on the presentation, “We have three choices: toll roads, slow roads, or no roads” and favors the legislation proposed by Cabanilla.
“We must do something to diminish the level of service F on the H-1 without increasing taxes” stated Charole, adding “The Public-Private-Partnership model that Rep. Cabanilla has introduced to provide for more freeway lane miles without raising taxes appears to be a viable solution to traffic congestion.”
Ever since the State House passed HB70 HD3 this past session, the focus for Rep. Cabanilla has been on trying to get the Senate to move forward on traffic solutions. Unfortunately, when Rep. Cabanilla requested the Senate Transportation Committee Chair to hear the bill, he refused. She then tried to go above him and request what’s called for a vote of the committee of the whole whereby transportation committee members petition the Senate body by a majority of committee members to request the bill be scheduled for a hearing. However, Transportation Committee members including Senators Mike Gabbard and Will Espero representing West Oahu declined to sign the petition.
“Twenty-two other states have legislation in place that enables public