Thursday, May 22, 2014


How is Honolulu like Kathmandu?

by Larry Geller

Magellen Avenue

I was thinking of Katmandu the other day while driving along Magellan Avenue towards Ward Avenue. Why Kathmandu? Just a crazy association which I will explain.

This is a snip of Magellan Avenue from Google Earth dated about a year ago. The H-1 is on the left, and Magellan is on the right.

Notice that parking is allowed on the right side, so the leftmost lane is skinnier than the right. This makes the lane marking particularly important, because if there should happen to be no parked cars, a car driving towards Ward Avenue (below the bottom of the picture) needs to stay in lane. Without the marking, it’s natural to drift towards the center, which actually would put the car partly in the opposing lane.

Well, the other day I noticed that there were long stretches where the lane marking, a single or double line, was completely gone. What remained was often so faint that in the rain it would probably be invisible.

This looks like an accident waiting to happen.

But as faithful readers will know, I’ve pointed out crosswalks that have totally disappeared in Kalihi, and even turn arrows worn clean off on Pali Highway.

Lack of road maintenance is nothing new—it’s the way Honolulu works. Neglect and negligence are our s.o.p.

Ok, the association with Kathmandu.

When we first visited Nepal in the 70s they had just installed Kathmandu’s first traffic light. It was turned on only during the morning “rush” hour, then turned off for the day.

But by the second visit, the traffic light was no longer operative. We were told that it was made in India, and so when the bulb burned out and they had no replacement, they could no longer use the traffic light.

That’s just like Honolulu. No money for maintenance.

Yes, I am comparing Honolulu to a third-world country.

And it’s not just the City administration. UH was reported to have a humongous repair backlog, and so do the state-run public schools. And of course, there is the derelict Natatorium.

As taxpayers, no doubt we pay to settle lawsuits resulting from the city’s negligent maintenance of sidewalks and road surfaces. Who is keeping track of these expenses?

It would be great if government (and the university) would budget for annual maintenance costs when they apportion money to build something. For example, West Oahu might be disallowed until UH demonstrates the inclusion of adequate maintenance costs in its annual budget.

With regard to our streets, however it can be done, it would be great if the city and state roads could be not just repaired but kept in good condition forever afterwards.


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