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Opinion: If the roads are this bad, what about rail maintenance?


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photo: istock

An article in today’s Star-Advertiser about repaving city streets caught our eye. Notes the paper, “Resurfacing work on eight streets in East Honolulu, costing $11.5 million, began yesterday as poor road conditions have spurred complaints to city officials. Most have not been repaved for about 20 years, said City Councilman Stanley Chang during a news briefing Tuesday at Kuliouou Road, one that's set for repaving.” The city, no surprise, says it hasn’t had the money to repave roads more often.

Twenty years. And, in the comments, Leeward residents grumble that this is yet another example of the city kowtowing to “powerful” East Honolulu residents while neglecting the West side, where roads have rotted for even longer.

It just adds to anxiety about the city’s ability to look after its infrastructure. Remember former-Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s famous rubric for city projects—Do we need it? Can we afford it? Can we maintain it? Good questions.

A paved road is just an asphalt frosting over a road bed cake. From an engineering standpoint, it ain’t complicated. Rail, if built, with its cars, tracks and stations, will be far more complex. A reasonable citizen might wonder: If we can’t get roads repaved any faster than every 20 years, why would we expect that rail would fare any better? Or, if the city is forced to choose, what will life be like if rail is maintained at the cost of 30- or 40-year repaving schedules for the roads?

 

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Honolulu Magazine January 2018
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