HDOT recognizes that there are always opportunities to improve the conditions of our roads and bridges. Reports from third parties such as the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Reason Foundation can provide useful information if the data behind the reports is accurate; however, the fatality rates cited for Hawaii are not correct in the Reason Foundation’s 26th Annual Highway Report.
The report claims that Hawaii reported the highest Rural Highway Fatality rate for the year 2019 at 4.86 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Our reporting to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows 1.12 fatalities on rural roads per 100 million VMT and 0.94 for urban roads. The data on fatal crashes by state can be found at https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/stsi.htm#
HDOT supports a multi-discipline approach to reduce traffic fatalities through engineering, education, and enforcement. On the engineering side, some of the safety projects HDOT has pursued include raised pedestrian crosswalks, roundabouts, and installation of new guardrails, thermo-reflective striping and milled rumble strips. We believe this multidisciplinary approach and our partnerships with local traffic safety advocates and law enforcement is working. Our rate of 1.11 fatalities per 100 million VMT is 12-percent lower than the national average and Hawaii did not continue the national trend of increased traffic fatalities during the pandemic.
Like all federally funded highways programs, HDOT must meet federal criteria for pavement and bridge condition. The federal criteria includes cracking, rutting (for asphalt pavement) and faulting (for concrete pavement) in addition to smoothness—which is the only criteria the Reason Foundation looks at. A section of road that does not meet the threshold in two of the three criteria would be considered poor. More information about pavement condition assessments can be found here.
HDOT continues to prioritize upkeep of our existing roads and bridges. There are multiple projects in the works to improve our roads such as paving of Kalanianaole Highway between Kamehameha Highway and Castle Hospital, Nimitz Highway/Ala Moana Boulevard between Sand Island Access Road and Piikoi Street, and Haleakala Highway. Bridge repair and replacement projects we’re working on include three Hamakua Coast bridges and six bridges on Hana Highway. More information on current highways projects as well as those planned within the next two years can be found on our program status map at https://arcg.is/0XTWX8
The signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will provide an increase in our federal formula funding as well as new bridge program and discretionary grant opportunities. The State Legislature approved a rental car surcharge in 2018 and an increase in 2020 that HDOT can use to help meet the state match required for these federal dollars. We are looking forward to applying this funding towards creating jobs fixing the roads and bridges that connect our communities to each other and centers of commerce.
Information on Hawaii’s highway goals and audited spending can be found on our Highways website under the tab “Annual Report” or at https://highways.hidot.hawaii.gov/stories/s/2021-Act-100-Report-Homepage/fujm-qxwq