City Council rushes to approve traffic-busting Ho’opili project

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Wednesday, April 01, 2015          68.0°F

By Kioni Dudley

Hate the terrible traffic on the H-1 freeway? It’s going to get a whole lot worse. Does your commute take 1½ hours each way today? Get ready for 2½ hours. And likely even more, thanks to your City Council.

The authoritative Inrix Report consistently rates H-1 traffic as the worst or second-worst in the nation. But your City Councilmembers are hearing none of that. They are rushing to approve zoning for the proposed Ho‘opili community before you notice what they are doing. That will put 12,000 more cars into the morning and afternoon rush.

They introduced Bill 3 on Feb. 18, and had the third hearing on it by March 11. If they stay on this fast track, they can finish the required five hearings and deliver the zoning prize to developer D.R. Horton/Schuler Homes on April 22. They refuse to recognize the problem; they just want to get this over before you catch on.

Some recent history: D.R. Horton/Schuler Homes hired Austin, Tsutsumi & Associates (ATA) to do a required traffic impact analysis report. It recommended adding one lane to the H-1 eastbound, claiming that this would bring peak rush-hour travel on the H-1/H-2 merge backup to Level of Service (LOS) C and D. (LOS C is free-flowing traffic; LOS D is traffic separated by eight car lengths.) That claim, of course, is totally preposterous.

The freeways are currently fed by 95,000 homes on the west and central sides of the merge. If the 12,000 homes of Ho‘opili are added to the 58,000 houses that are already zoned and ready to be built in this area, there will be 70,000 new homes feeding the merge — almost double the current homes, with double the cars.

Traffic is currently backed up and inching along for 4½ miles on the H-1 and for a couple of miles on the H-2. If five lanes currently cause a 4½-mile backup while serving 95,000 homes, how is it possible that one additional lane will adequately serve 70,000 additional homes, and also bring the traffic up to a free-flowing LOS C and D? Ain’t gonna happen.

Further, rows of huge cement columns on both sides of the freeway guarantee that no more lanes can be added.

Some might think that rail will solve the problem. But rail can carry a mere 7,800 people an hour with every car full, and all expectations are that ridership will be far, far, less.

With Ho‘opili, travel time will grow and grow, adding ever greater misery to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for decades to come.

Each year will bring greater loss of time with family, watching kids in sports, seeing one’s family grow up. It will steal more time from recreation, participation in community and leisure — and impact personal health and performance at the workplace. And every year, tens of thousands of latchkey kids of all ages will be left alone and unsupervised for longer hours of time each day. These costs to our society are staggering.

There will also be tremendous costs in dollars. According to the Texas Transportation Institute model, today’s two hours of delay in traffic cost individuals $7,300 a year. Adding an hour in each direction would double that cost to each family, reaching $14,600 a year.

Commercial vehicles delayed in today’s two-hour traffic cost businesses $38,500 annually. This will double to $77,000, enough to drive many companies out of business.

How can you stop this? Email or call City Councilmembers to oppose Bill 3 (see our website, www.hoopilitraffic.com). They need to hear from you — your traffic experience — and that you will hold them accountable.

Please do it now.

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GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM

Proponents and opponents of the Ho‘opili housing development filled the gallery of the Honolulu City Council at a hearing last month.

 

 

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