Gov. Lingle’s DOT Accomplishments

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - November 03, 2010

We are in the waning days of the Lingle administration. It has been nearly eight years of GOP control on the Fifth Floor, and there will be inevitable legacy reviews of Hawaii’s first woman governor. I am certain the same will occur in this space in the coming weeks.

But there is one area of responsibility where this administration has demonstrated great accomplishment under the auspices of one department: the state Department of Transportation.

There are few shortcomings in government that people will tolerate, and chiefly among them are poor roadways. We want our streets to be smooth. We want our streets to be clean. Drivers and passengers alike detest the bone-jarring potholes and steel coverings that dominate most roads. So many of us are sick and tired of subjecting our vehicles to the relief-map road surfaces of multiple patches and temporary fixes.

How many of you have cursed out loud when your vehicle bottoms out or rattles when driving down stretches of bumpy freeway? Yeah, I know.

We have this pesky delineation between state roads and city roads that dilutes the effectiveness of governmental agencies to react and for the general public to exercise accountability.


That said, there has been considerable project development and completion attributable to the Lingle state DOT. There have been three directors during her watch: Rod Hiraga, Brennon Morioka and Mike Formby (who is serving as interim director). A lot of the heavy lifting goes to Morioka, but Hiraga served well during the first term, and Formby is focused on solidifying ongoing projects for the next administration.

Here are some examples of the Lingle DOT accomplishments:

2006: The widening of H-1 between Aiea and Pearl City. Despite the protests of local residents, this project provided substantial relief to a burgeoning commute. The cost was $600 million and improved commute times up to 30 minutes.

2005: Moanalua Freeway had been neglected by previous administrations to the point where it was tough to find a smooth patch of roadway. It was abysmal. However, the resurfacing of the four-mile roadway (most of the construction was done at night) cost about $13 million and provided relief to about 128,000 vehicles a day. It’s still in good shape.

2006: Fort Weaver Road had the reputation of being a movable parking lot. The meteoric growth of the Ewa community strained the existing road capacity. The DOT increased the number of lanes from four to six at a cost of $8.6 million. This is Phase 1 of the project, and Phase 2 is under way. Ask any Ewa resident how positive the impact has been since its completion. Along with the opening of the long-awaited North-South Road, it’s heartening to see this region get the attention it so sorely needs and deserves.

The Ala Moana Improvement Project, the Farrington Highway Media Barrier Safety Improvements and Beautification, the resurfacing of Nimitz Highway (remember the “Even Knievel Ramp” going onto the airport viaduct?) and the rescue of Puuloa Road are just a few of the major projects delivered for Oahu residents. This list does not include the impactful accomplishments on the Neighbor Islands. The Lahaina Bypass on Maui, which was talked about for generations, is in its second phase of completion, much to the delight of West Mauians.


The major endeavors of the Airport and Harbors Modernization Plans are under way, and prove to be the greatest overhaul of our primary points of entry for people and supplies.

Again, it took the Lingle administration to undertake these daunting challenges, and she and her team should be congratulated for their dedication and accomplishments under her watch. It will be up to the next administration to demonstrate commitment and foresight in completing these essential projects.

Lingle and her administration left the state better off in regard to transportation during her tenure, and the men and women of the state Department of Transportation should be proud of their service to the people of our state.

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