The City and County of Honolulu says it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out for commuters who traverse the formerly pothole-riddled Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki.
Those who’ve traveled the popular thoroughfare recently might have noticed that the ride was even and stress-free. A new layer of pavement now covers a street that, earlier this year, was a bumpy and lopsided patchwork of cracks and potholes. (Check out the video below.)
Mayor Kirk Caldwell, whose top priorities include a bold plan to repave hundreds of miles on Oahu’s roadways, announced the completion of the Waialae repaving effort Thursday at the Kaimuki Community Park between 10th and 11th avenues. Standing next to a poster board detailing his repaving accomplishments and goals, Caldwell thanked community members for their patience.
After all, the project should have been completed last year.
A newly repaved Waialae Avenue.
Alia Wong/Civil Beaet
“We encountered some unexpected challenges, but that’s an example of what happens when core infrastructure is neglected for decades,” Caldwell said. He compared the old Waialae Avenue to “driving over Saddle Road,” a once notoriously dilapidated highway that stretches across the Big Island.
The project has experienced its fair share of trials and tribulations, much to the outrage of area residents and commuters who rely on the street every day. It’s also expected to end up costing $2.3 million more than its original price tag of about $9 million, according to Mark Yonamine, the acting director of the city’s Department of Design and Construction.
And there’s still more work that needs to be done on the street, including final striping that will include a dedicated bike line or a shared lane with markings for bicyclists known as “sharrows.” These final steps are slated for completion by October, meaning the project could ultimately be finished 10 months after its original due date of December 2013.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announces completion of Waialae Avenue’s repaving with the Department of Design and Construction’s Mark Yonamine to his right and Hawaii Bicycling League’s Chad Taniguchi to his left. (July 10, 2014)
Alia Wong/Civil Beat
The city attributed the delays to unforeseen infrastructure holdups, particularly “soft spots” caused by water damage that forced workers to take out more subsurface material than they had originally planned for.
Chad Taniguchi of the Hawaii Bicycling League said Waialae is now a lot safer and more maneuverable for bicyclists — “500 percent better” than it was before.
Caldwell also took the opportunity to announce progress on his repaving initiative. One of Caldwell’s promises is to repave 300 lane miles — that is, miles on a single lane — each year in order to repair all 1,500 lane miles that were deemed unsatisfactory in a 2012 survey.
Last year, the city repaved 398 lane miles; it’s repaved another 203 lane miles so far this year.
Meanwhile, the city just executed a new contract to repave 29 lane miles in Palolo for a cost of roughly $11 million.
“We’re going gangbusters on road repaving,” Caldwell said.
Video of Waialae Avenue before the fixes:
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