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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Hawai'i ranks near bottom in efficient spending on highways

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer

Hawai'i continues to rank among the lowest states in the country when it comes to how well government spends transportation money, according to an annual survey done by a North Carolina professor.

The study, in its 11th year, said Hawai'i was No. 48 in the country based on a complicated system that weighs how much money the state spends on its highways and how much citizens get in return.

Last year, Hawai'i was ranked 47th.

Nationally, the U.S. road system continued to improve, said professor Davit T. Hartgen, even though "Americans still spend less on road capital projects than they spend at Home Depot every year." Federal financing for roads increased, and revenues spent on state-owned roads surged 9 percent in 2000, the latest year for which figures are available.

In Hawai'i, though, state spending on roads slipped that year and there was little improvement in the seven categories measuring the status of roads, including the quality of major highways, repairs to bridges, urban congestion and fatality rates.

Hartgen's survey shows Wyoming's roadway spending as the most efficient in the nation; New Jersey is the worst.

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Information to help you get around O'ahu:

• TheBus: For schedules and other information, call 848-5555 or visit www.thebus.org.

• Vanpool Hawai'i: 596-8267

• Trafficam: Check out traffic conditions at more than 20 major intersections around Honolulu.

• Road work:

Hawai'i's electric vehicle test program celebrated its first anniversary in September.

The Hawai'i Electric Vehicle Demonstration Project involves more than 15 electric-powered Hyundai Santa Fe sports utility vehicles scattered across O'ahu.

In the first 12 months of operation, the electric fleet logged a combined total of more than 75,000 miles and generally were trouble-free, Hyundai officials said. The vehicles were able to travel an average of 70 to 90 miles between charges.

City, state and federal agencies use the vehicles on a daily basis.

Next year the project will focus on developing and improving the rapid charging technology, used to get the vehicles back on the road quickly when their power supply runs low.

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State Transportation Department officials have received a federal grant of $104,723 to expand their successful "Click It or Ticket" campaign to increase seat belt use.

The money is part of $49 million the U.S. Transportation Department recently distributed to states for programs that focus on seat belt use and fighting alcohol-impaired driving.

In May, police officers statewide issued 4,734 tickets for seat-belt violations during the first "Click It or Ticket." Seat-belt violators paid between $45 and $67 for the fine, $15 for an administrative fee and $7 for a driver education fee.

The new money will be used to launch another seat-belt awareness campaign this month, using television advertisements and extra police enforcement.

Mike Leidemann's Drive Time column runs Tuesdays. Reach him at 525-5460 or mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com.