Dear Honolulu Council Member,

As you know from reviewing various studies, traffic conditions are rated with a Level of Service ranging from A (very good) to F (very poor.) Freeway traffic conditions between Ft. Weaver Road and Aiea are at level F on any typical weekday morning. Then comes Hoopili along with a number of other approved or planned developments for west Oahu.

I want to focus your attention on the H-1 Freeway, the main lifeline between west Oahu and Honolulu, which borders the project. While Hoopili’s revised Traffic Impact Analysis Report by Austin Tsutsumi and Associates is a little opaque about the derivation of growth rates because it works things out from a 2007 start, a 2010 base, a 2023 middle stage and a 2035 ultimate stage of full development, with some multiplication, the growth of traffic from 2010 to 2035 will be +43 percent.

This is for Hoopili plus all other scheduled development and growth in west Oahu. This is a staggering increase of traffic for a freeway that already operates at level F.

rail HART supports Kahi Mohala approach.

rail HART supports Kahi Mohala approach.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

However, the list of recommendations in the report talks about a lane addition at the critical H-1/H-2 merge. So traffic lane capacity will improve from today’s 5 regular plus 1 (zipper) lanes, to 6 regular plus 1 (zipper) lanes. This will produce a capacity gain of +17 percent which is far too small for the +43 percent growth in traffic. Due to the piers of overhead bridges and other obstructions, there is no possibility of adding any more lanes. Recall that due to these restrictions, my solution to congestion was reversible lanes from the H-1/H-2 merge to downtown because this part of Oahu desperately needs more lane capacity.

But of course one may argue that the rail will take care of the west Oahu public’s need for travel. The traffic engineers who conducted the Hoopili TIAR disclose that “rail transit trip reductions were obtained from ORTP [e.g., OMPO’s Oahu Regional Transportation Plan] and the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project Environmental Impact Statement [e.g., the rail’s final EIS] and were applied to the Hoopili project’s trip distribution. Based on that report it was found that a trip reduction of 3.6 percent could be applied to/from work trips and 3 percent to/from commercial trips.” (TIAR page 41.)

So rail, at best, will reduce the +43 percent of traffic growth to +39 percent which cannot be accommodated by the +17 percent increase of traffic capacity. So if today’s traffic is bad, then in 2035 with Hoopili and the rest of the planned developments, traffic will be severely congested.

You appear to be deliberately approving transportation and development projects that will yield a grossly substandard quality of life for all of west Oahu.

Yet the truth has been out there since 2008 and the City Council has deliberately ignored it. See the 2008 version (Sean Hao’s article in the Honolulu Advertiser) which says that rail won’t do anything for traffic (Appendix A). See the 2014 version (TIAR for D.R. Horton’s Hoopili proposal) that says that rail won’t do much for Hoopili and all the rest of the planned development in west Oahu. The TIAR says that the city and the state will need to add all the lanes that can possibly be added … with or without the rail.

Rail’s traffic reduction is negligible. And traffic even with the added lanes will be terrible because the improvement on the H-1 freeway will be marginal and there is no parallel arterial to help the situation. If anything, the rail project will reduce the number of lanes on Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City and Aiea.

It baffles me beyond belief that you are serially approving future development and transportation projects that are certifiably calamitous for our island community.


Panos D. Prevedouros, PhD

Appendix A

The City’s consultant estimates that in 2030 rail will reduce traffic from 18,049 to 17,209 vehicles a reduction of about 4%. This is of course a “pro-rail” estimate and the reality will be about half those rosy estimates.

Recall that Tren Urbano in San Juan, PR is the best example to compare with Honolulu’s rail. It is fully elevated, in an island city, designed by Parsons Brinkerhoff and overseen by FTA. Identical to ours. They projected 100,000 daily riders. It opened in 2006 with 25,000 or so riders. Almost ten years later it barely serves 40,000 daily riders. Mind you people in San Juan make less than half the income and have less than 1/3 the vehicles of the average Honolulu resident.

Tren Urbano had an approximate 100% cost overrun.

Tren Urbano was one of the catalysts that led to this: “Puerto Rico is buried under at least $73 billion in debt that has left its economy in a near perpetual recession…”

Hawaii’s public employee pensions, EUTF, sewer consent decree and rail liabilities are comparable to Puerto Rico’s on a per capita basis!


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