“I believe the government has a basic duty to maintain safe and navigable streets,” stated Rep. Gene Ward. “Yet our streets are filled with potholes and poor patches that damage our cars, and make it more difficult for emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and fire trucks, to reach their destinations quickly.” The State Department of Transportation recently announced they had only about $20 million in funds available this year to repair roads. Maintaining the same road conditions requires closer to $100 million each year and this does not even begin to tackle the backlog of highway and bridge repairs that are waiting to be done.
“Some Windward Oahu potholes are the size of huge bird baths. Motorists need to swerve to avoid them, which can cause unsafe situations,” Rep. Cynthia Thielen noted.
“What is particularly tragic is at least $145 million was raided from the State Highway fund by Democrat legislators,” Rep. Kymberly Pine pointed out. “This means we were unable to build and repair the roads we needed even though drivers had paid more than their fair share of vehicle and gasoline taxes.”
“I am concerned that Governor Abercrombie and his Dept of Transportation are now considering raising gasoline and vehicle weight taxes without assuring us the money will be dedicated to taking care of our roads,” Rep. Gene Ward, a member of the House Finance Committee explained.
The City and County of Honolulu has not been maintaining its roads, yet the Mayor wants to spend $5.5 billion on a new rail transit system. An estimated $1.55 billion would come from the Federal Government, which is already heavily in debt.
Last week the Federal Transit Administration issued a statement that the City still must prepare and issue a budget to demonstrate how they will fund the rail system.
“I am calling on the Mayor and Governor to ask their transportation departments to immediately fix our potholes on our roadways before we launch into a multi-billion dollar rail system. Our caucus will immediately initiate Operation Pothole to make fixes and encourage citizens to join the Pothole Posse,” proposed Ward.
“With the Asia-Pacific Economic Commission (APEC) coming to our State in eight months, including the heads of an estimated 20 major countries, the State and City should start today to meet the goal of filling 10,000 potholes. This will benefit our citizens and make our city presentable for this major international event,” Ward stated.
Operation Pothole is an initiative being launched by several members of the House Republican Caucus. Citizens are encouraged to become part of the Pothole Posse by calling 768-7777 the Honolulu Pothole Hotline or 536-7852 the Hawaii Pothole Patrol Hotline to report pothole locations and road repair problems in their neighborhood. These reports will be channeled directly to the City and State transportation departments. Complaints will be monitored to ensure they are addressed on a prompt basis.
The House Republican Caucus is Minority Leader Gene Ward, Minority Floor Leader Kymberly Marcos Pine, Minority Policy Leader Barbara C. Marumoto, Assistant Minority Leader Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Floor Leader Corinne W.L. Ching and Minority Whips, Representatives George Fontaine, Aaron Ling Johanson, and Gil Riviere.