Thursday, April 02, 2015
Trial by fire or learn to plan? The traffic jam could spur the beginning of an important conversation
The traffic jam also underscored the consequences of Honolulu’s pattern of approving housing developments without ensuring there is adequate transportation infrastructure in place.—Civil Beat: Honolulu Traffic Jam ‘A Perfect Storm of Everything Falling Apart’
by Larry Geller
If housing developments continue to be approved, traffic is going to get worse, and the slightest incident (construction, a collision) will increasingly cause intolerable delays.
But you knew that. You knew it because you read widely, including Disappeared News. You know that if we don’t change course, we’re headed for the cliff for sure.
Neither our city nor our state believe in planning, whether its for development, traffic, affordable housing, the annually growing shortage of medical specialists, or whether it’s for mundane things like maintenance.
Just as nationally we are headed for the cliff of global warming because our leaders won’t take adequate measures to save us, here in Honolulu we are headed for our own cliff—in this case, as more and more homes are built, without restriction, and traffic just builds and builds.
As with global warming, there has been and will continue to be a steady increase in traffic, punctuatedby more and increasingly severe “storms.” This time it was piss poor planning for Zip machine contingencies. Excuses (which we’re getting plenty of now) don’t work, planning and checklists do.
The increase in traffic is inevitable, and we know this. It’s because the City Council approves housing developments and our roads just can’t absorb the growth in the number of cars.Yes, we do know this and have known it for some time.
If we’re not careful, tourists will also figure this out and it could begin to hurt the industry on which the economy of this state depends.
What will the Japanese tourists tell their friends and perhaps the media back home about how they missed their return flights in Honolulu because of a traffic jam?
The Civil Beat article linked above is a must-read. In particular, don’t miss the last part, where a University of Hawaii professor lays it out in plain language. I can only snip a little, you need to click over and read the complete article.
On social media, pro-rail supporters leapt at the opportunity to point out that if highly controversial over-budget public transportation system is built, commuters won’t need to be stuck in traffic.
But Kem Lowry, a University of Hawaii professor of urban planning, said Wednesday that the city’s planned rail system is “at best, a partial solution” because it only ensures that traffic congestion will get worse at a slower rate.
He explained that Honolulu’s terrible traffic — among the worst in the nation — is the result of approving more houses than the city’s roads can accommodate.
“Transportation infrastructure has not kept pace with the growth of new developments,” Lowry said. “What we see is a consequence of that.”
We knew that, but perhaps the City Council and the Mayor need to be told over and over again until they get it.
But I suggest that it is not just zoning that needs to be reformed in this city. At the top of the article I listed up some other areas where we know what lies ahead but do nothing effective. If there were a culture of planning and adequate budgeting in this state (and city), then perhaps we could be assured that our quality of life and the health of our economy are being looked out for.
As it is, the only people who will be happy with the status quo are those related to development. Oh, and the politicians they contribute to, I suppose.
Here’s a related rant: Hawaii—The Hammock State (1/31/2015)