State transportation director: 'I've failed' to properly maintain airports
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state's transportation department director is taking the blame for decades of deterioration at Hawaii's airports.
"To be honest with you, I've failed," said Ford Fuchigami.
Fuchigami now believes the solution is an independent airport corporation. If SB 658 passes, the airports' division will become an independent organization, with its own board of directors.
If the bill does not pass, he says, don't expect any changes.
"In our view, it would be the same old, same old," said Jim Stone, with the Airport Concessionaires Committee. "We have to stop fooling ourselves. Things are not gonna change unless change comes about, and the airport corporation bill will do that."
Transportation officials blame cost overruns and construction delays a Honolulu International on state red tape and bureaucracy.
There are too many agencies involved in decisions, Fuchigami says, and the issues aren't new. The department put a committee together in 2012 to try to fix them.
"They put a lot of effort into this, they put a lot of work into this, it was their ideas," Fuchigami said. "Our vision was to deliver an airport system and its pride of our state. I failed to give them the tools necessary to accomplish that."
But critics of the bill say DOT officials should be held responsible for not doing their job.
The state's largest public employee union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA), has testified against the measure, saying "the public interest at our airports would be better served through improved collaboration among state agencies."
The budget department also opposes the corporation, saying the system is adequate and doesn't need change.
The bill is currently in conference committee.
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