Honolulu roads rated 2nd-worst in nation
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By Dave Dondoneau
By Dave Dondoneau
Honolulu motorists drive the second-worst urban roads in the nation and pay the third-highest cost for extra vehicle maintenance because of it, said a national report released yesterday.
TRIP, a national transportation watchdog group, based its study on 2006 Federal Highway Administration data that had been supplied to the federal agency by state departments of transportation.
This is the first time Honolulu has appeared in the worst 20 cities, TRIP spokesman Frank Moretti said.
But both the city and state say the report is out of date because of all the roadwork they have done in recent years.
"It's based on 2006 data so it's not up to date for us," said Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
"If you had asked us in 2003 or 2004, I'd say we have major road problems, but we've been working on it and we're trying to repave as many roads as possible," he said. "The job isn't over by any means, but in the past four years the state has spent $120 million on road projects."
"The condition of the roads in Honolulu is well known and their neglect over the years well documented," city spokesman Bill Brennan said. "In the two years since the study was conducted the administration has aggressively committed to repairing, repaving and rehabilitating the city's streets.
"We have budgeted nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to this effort and the results are beginning to show all over the island. ... I'm sure when the next TRIP report is done it will show a marked improvement in Honolulu's roads."
Brennan said the city filled 80,000 potholes in 2007 and 7,000 more in January.
PATCHES NOT ENOUGH
But fixing potholes does not mean fixing the road, said Ricardo Archilla, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.
Archilla, an expert in polymer asphalt, has been contracted by the state to research patch and repair solutions, including how to create a pavement management system that can track a road structure's strength, fatigue and repair costs.
"Patching is not fixing the problem of why the pothole appeared in first place," Archilla said. "By the time you're patching the pavement below is already weak. It is already fatigued or cracked. That's why you see the same potholes popping up over and over.
"At the same time, patching has to continue because you need those quick fixes for safety reasons. You still have to continue to look at long-term solutions."
Cameron Kawasaki of 'Aiea said he hit a pothole on Ke'eaumoku Street last month and it bent the rim on an after-market wheel of his S-2000 Honda.
"Our roads are pretty sad," Kawasaki said. "They just patch roads, they don't really fix the problems. When the trucks and buses hit those patches they tear them up."
Melec Lazaro of Waikele said he's visited Titanium, a Pearl City shop specializing in repairing after-market wheels and rims, three times since December because of potholes at three locations.
"The first time I was going to work in Kane'ohe and it happened in the middle lane on the H-1," Lazaro said. "The second time I was coming down Red Hill and hit the potholes by the bend. The last time was about three weeks ago on Kina'u Street. I've spent well over $800 on repairs.
"To me, patching is just covering the problem. Eventually, with so many cars running over patches it comes up. Usually after it rains."
PROFITS FROM POTHOLES
Maile Custodio, owner of Titanium, said 80 percent of her business is created by potholes.
"We're the only ones who can fix the custom wheels," she said, "so we see a lot of pothole damage."
Both the city and state have Web sites and hot lines dedicated to reporting pothole problems and both offer reimbursement programs for drivers whose cars were damaged by potholes.
Jen Jones of Waipio Gentry plans on filing a claim with the city after a pothole in Waipio cost her $1,000 for repairs on her 2005 Dodge Magnum.
"They sent a claim form me to file," Jones said. "They said it would take three months before I get reimbursed. I have to send in a receipt and they'll do an investigation and find out if the pothole did cause the damage. I'm photo girl. I sent photos of it, too."
Ishikawa said the state receives about 10 calls a day on pothole complaints, but four years ago the state was getting 40 to 50 calls. The state also is experimenting with different forms of asphalt to find a mix that compacts better and is smoother.
"I think we've turned the corner and made a lot of progress," he said. "But at the same time there's still a lot of work to be done."
Reach Dave Dondoneau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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