City making strides in plan to improve roads

Published On: Nov 29 2012 07:10:22 AM HST   Updated On: Nov 29 2012 07:13:01 AM HST

The city has made great progress toward implementing a road maintenance program that will judge all roads on Oahu through a Pavement Condition Index, or PCI.

On Wednesday, Division of Facility Maintenance Director Westley Chun told members of the City Council's Public Works and Sustainability Committee that 98.8 percent of all city roads have been videotaped and mapped out during the past five months, a first step in the new Pavement Management Plan.

The mapping is being performed with the Micro PAVER system, which uses cameras mounted on a car to record the condition of roads, and then rates each road with a PCI of zero to 100.  

"Our road program will be based on a scientific process using measured data," Chun told committee members. "With it, we'll be able to develop multiple scenarios to see how we can meet the Pavement Condition Index goals established by this Council, and we'll be able to track our progress on how we're improving our roads over time."

Under Resolution 12-35 passed by the full Council in February, the city is moving away from a policy of repaving roads in the worst condition first. Instead, roads will be better maintained while they're still in good shape.  The goal of the program is to have all city roads average a PCI score of 80, while no single road falls below a PCI of 60.

"The city is no longer going to have roads at a (PCI) 60 or below once the policy is fully implemented, which means a big improvement for the people of Honolulu," said Councilman Stanley Chang, chairman of the committee and the driving force behind the program.

Ultimately, the new roads maintenance program hopes to save taxpayers' money.  Chun said it takes about a million dollars per lane mile to completely refurbish a road.  The new initiative hopes to bring down that cost to about $75,000 per lane mile, since roads will no longer get to the point where they're falling apart.

"Rather than just spending the money on road reconstruction, there's going to be more balanced spending between road reconstruction and pavement preservation," said Chun.

The Department of Facility Maintenance plans on delivering a report at the end of the month that will provide councilmembers various options on how to improve the condition of roads under the guidelines of the resolution.

"Depending on what those numbers look like," Chang told KITV4, "the Council will be able to choose in how many years we'll be able to get there."

Repaving roads that are literally crumbling to pieces will still be a priority for the city, according to Chang, but eventually, in 10 to 15 years, the councilman envisions a scenario where very few roads will have to be completely rebuilt.

"My hope is that we'll be in the best couple of jurisdictions in the country for the best roads," said Chang.

Historically, Hawaii's roads have been rated among the worst in the country.

In March, The Road Information Program, or TRIP, ranked Honolulu's roads third-worst in the nation, behind only San Jose and Los Angeles. The study claims poor road conditions cost the average Hawaii motorist $1,527 annually in the form of delays, crashes and the cost to operate a vehicle.


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