City working to fix failing roads and driver frustrations

City working to fix failing roads and driver frustrations

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Potholes are bringing drivers to a boiling point on Oahu.  For some the city isn't doing enough to fix the hundreds of failing roads.

Whether potholes in Hawaii Kai or alligator cracking in Manoa, the road hazards are tough to miss on Oahu.  A recent survey found more than 200 city roads have failed.  Many more were labeled serious, very poor or poor.

East Oahu has the highest percentage of messed up roads on the island which is Stanley Chang's council district.

"I certainly think this is the most urgent priority the city has," said Stanley Chang, Honolulu City Councilmember representing East Oahu.

Ailuna Street in Kuliouou is an example of a failed road.  Lunalilo Home Road also has some huge potholes with drivers swerving to avoid punishing their tires and alignment.

"They allow the roads to go and go and go and go past the point of repair and when you see potholes what that means is that road has failed," said Amy Brown, Ph.D., University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine Associate Professor.

Amy Brown has made potholes a side mission to the work at the medical school.  She has lobbied lawmakers to fix the roads for years.  She is convinced that rain doesn't cause potholes.  Instead it's the shallow depth of asphalt Hawaii uses.

"I don't like people buffaloed or fooled.  The people of Hawaii have been fooled into thinking it's the rain. It's not the rain and I'm so tired of hearing that," said Brown. "The people of Hawaii have to know it's not because of the rain. It's because of the politicians. And it's because of the politicians funneling the money and taking it elsewhere."

Yes the city has to pay for many other things but rain is a contributing factor of potholes.

"Rain causes potholes because rain is water but any water can cause potholes," said Ross Sasamura, Honolulu Department of Facility Maintenance Director.

Sasamura says rain is not the only factor.  Age, traffic, vehicle weight and terrain all lead to cracks in the road.  The cracks let water penetrate the base which eventually causes soft spots and ultimately the potholes.

"As pavement ages it becomes more brittle and that's why it's more prone to cracking.  Ultra violet light, salt air and rainfall all contribute to the aging of the asphalt," said Sasamura.  "Largely traffic patterns will influence what happens to a road more quickly than weather."

There is already improvement.  Halema'uma'u Place was a failed road.  Now it's repaved.  Various streets in the McCully area were bad but blocks of streets are smooth now.

The question is will the city spend the money to maintain the newly repaved roads?  We'll take a deeper look at that issue Monday on HawaiiNewsNow at 10:00.

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