Caldwell’s Road Repair Efforts Good for Honolulu’s Economy

Anyone forced to drive on Oahu no doubt wants to be encouraged by what they heard this week from Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell regarding his plans to increase spending dramatically on road repairs.

Honolulu’s deplorable road conditions are costing Hawaii businesses and their employees countless dollars a year for things such as premature tire replacement and what should be unneeded suspension repairs. In addition, poor roads add to the cost of doing business by damaging goods in transit, and they also have a negative effect on the image of our state’s most important industry. Most importantly, these conditions potentially are dangerous to anyone with a daily commute.

So, Caldwell’s intent to invest $150 million for road work starting in the next fiscal year as part of a five-year plan to repave more than 1,500 miles of city streets is welcome news — and we want to believe that Caldwell will follow through on his plan. In making the announcement, the mayor acknowledged that he needs the City Council’s commitment to keep the money in the budget.

But that’s not the only concern for those who remember other Honolulu mayors making their own promises. Jeremy Harris, for instance, wanted to beautify Oahu, and Mufi Hannemann’s mantra was to focus on what Oahu needed and could afford.

In the end, however, both of these men seemed more interested in using the mayor’s platform to position themselves for what ultimately were unsuccessful bids to become governor, and Honolulu’s infrastructure suffered as a result. Then, for the past three years, Peter Carlisle’s approach was more patchwork than strategic, more attendant than visionary. Under all three, Oahu’s infrastructure deteriorated.

Caldwell, however, has the opportunity to reverse those fortunes for Hawaii’s most populous city, and we give him credit for keeping one of his campaign promises.

But agreeing to throw money at the problem, which is certainly needed in this case, is only part of the solution. Caldwell also needs to find a more long-lasting approach to the repairs that are being made. Currently, many potholes filled today won’t even last the rest of this rainy season, while road work done on various parts of the Mainland with much harsher weather conditions lasts for years.

Road work may not be rocket science, but there obviously is a science to it, and the contractors hired by the City and County of Honolulu need to learn it.

For those who worry that a longer-lasting approach to road repairs may cost construction workers jobs down the road, maybe this can put their minds at ease: Oahu has so much deferred maintenance in this area that contractors could start doing the work correctly and stay busy for years to come — assuming that Caldwell and Honolulu’s future mayors and City Council members don’t lose sight of their responsibilities in providing funding and direction in this important area.

(source: Pacific Business News)

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