Coming to a Freeway Near You: Daily Congestion That Rivals Zip Fiasco

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April 29, 2015

 

Community Voice

If the Honolulu City Council approves rezoning to allow the Hoopili development, every day will be a traffic nightmare like the day the ZipMobile broke.

By Kioni Dudley

“ZipMobile standstill” will become your daily experience, courtesy of your Honolulu City Council. It may take a few years to get that bad again, but there is no doubt that it will. And it will stay that way, every single day.

Check the math. Cars from 95,000 homes squeezed into three lanes on Zip-Day. If the Council approves Hoopili, we will eventually have cars from 165,000 homes squeezing into five lanes in the morning and six in the evening. Divide the number of houses by the number of lanes. The cars per lane are the same for the Zip disaster and for your future daily drive.

How long were you stuck in traffic during Zip-down? Some say five hours. Expect the same both going and coming! And that’s if there are no accidents.

Expect congestion like this every day if the City Council approves the Hoopili development.

Rail is not going to do much to solve this. With train cars full, rail can only carry 7,800 an hour.

How did it all come to this? It was in the way the rules were set up. Developers, unions, and banks got their own people elected to office, and they set the rules. Studies done by developers to justify their projects were allowed to ignore regional traffic impacts. Over the years, all of the houses now existing and 58,000 yet-to-come were given zoning without studying their joint impact on H-1.

The state Department of Transportation is doing what it can. It is finishing an additional west-bound lane on H-1, and has plans to add another lane town-bound, but we already consistently have among the three worst traffic ratings in the nation, with traffic backed up for miles.

That new lane would ease current traffic conditions, but a lane only serves 2,300 an hour, 6,900 during three hours of peak rush hour. It won’t even carry the 12,000 cars expected from Hoopili, let alone cars from the 58,000 houses already zoned.  And there’s absolutely no way to add more lanes. Year by year, traffic will become more insufferable until it reaches Zip-stage. There is no way to avoid it.

That future is all completely contrary to the promises in the Ewa Development Plan, which the Council passed last year, and which it is ignoring. The EDP has an “Adequate Facilities Requirement” which clearly states that “zoning and other development approvals for new developments should be approved only if the responsible city and state agencies indicate that adequate public facilities and utilities will be available at the time of occupancy.”

Among the required adequate facilities, “the transportation system should provide adequate capacity for major peak-hour commuting to work in the Primary Urban Center.” Level of Service D is recognized both here in Hawaii and nationally as adequate freeway capacity during peak hour commute time. We are deep into LOS F today.

Hoopili developer D.R. Horton has agreed to add another lane to the freeway between Kunia and the H-1/H-2 merge. Its traffic study states unequivocally that this one lane will bring our freeway traffic back up to Level of Service D, even with the 70,000 anticipated homes, which includes Hoopili. If the Council insists on approving Hoopili zoning, it must force D.R. Horton to prove this ridiculous claim before building the project.

The Council must add a condition of approval that requires 1) that the additional lane be complete and, 2) that traffic has been certified to be Level of Service D before occupancy of the first house, and that it will stay at that level.  This is what the adequate facility requirement in the Ewa Development Plan promises our people.

Will the Council do it?  Not unless it sees that those who elect its members demand it.

Are you stuck in the daily traffic? Will you take action to prevent the daily reoccurrence of the Zip-disaster?  Visit our website, www.hoopilitraffic.com. Sign our petition to the Council, adding your heart-felt comments. See what other things you can do while you are there.

But wait! Don’t we need the houses? No. City documents say we need 1,800 a year in Central and Leeward Oahu.  That’s 36,000 over the next 20 years. We have 58,000 zoned without Hoopili.

But don’t we need construction jobs? With 58,000 houses zoned and ready to build, we can take care of every last one of our local workers. Adding Hoopili will mean bringing in mainlanders to work, who will later compete for jobs.

If not you, who? If not now, when? Please do it now.

______

Dr. Kioni Dudley is vice chair of the Makakilo-Kapolei-Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board. He is also the president of the Friends of Makakilo and chair of Save O’ahu Farmlands.

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