West – Leeward – Central Oahu Traffic Mitigation Joint – Special Meeting Minutes

Makakilo Neighborhood Board, kapolei newspaper

Makakilo/Kapolei NB Special January Minutes 1

Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board No. 34


CALL TO ORDER – Larry Veray, Traffic and Transportation Committee Representative for Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 and D. Kalani Capelouto, Transportation Committee Chair of Kapolei/Honokai Hale Board No. 34 co-hosted this special joint board meeting, calling the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. A quorum was not established for the 11 Neighborhood Boards collaborating on this joint initiative with only 5 separate boards represented. The following Neighborhood Boards were invited to this special working group: Neighborhood Board Traffic and Transportation Working Group:
– No. 20 Aiea, No. 21 Pearl City, No. 22 Waipahu, No. 23 Ewa, No. 24 Waianae, No. 25 Mililani-Waipio, No. 26 Wahiawa-Whitmore Village, No. 27 North Shore, No. 34 Makakilo-Kapolei, No. 35 Mililani-Mauka/Launani Valley, No. 36 Nanakuli-Maili

Board and Committee Members Present – D. Kalani Capelouto No.34, Larry Veray No. 21, Alesia Au No. 26, Bob Lormand No. 26, Rodney Boucher No. 23, Joe Fancher No. 26, Frank Genadio No. 34, Richard Landford No.36

Board Representatives Absent – No. 20, No. 22, No. 24, No. 25, No. 27, No. 35

Guests – Joseph Magaldi (OMPO CAC Chair), Jayna Omaye (Honolulu Star-Advertiser), Tricia Sakamoto (Councilmember Elefante’s Office), Cruz Vina Jr.

Goals and Objectives of the Traffic Mitigation Working Group – Co-Chair Veray reported the following:

With traffic being the number one issue addressed literally at all neighborhood board meetings, it is extremely important to work a very hard problem like this one by bringing as many neighborhood boards together to address the problem and then develop recommendations to the State, City and Federal government to mitigate the problem. Lessons learned from the recent success of the Moped Noise Mitigation Working Group comprised of a unified effort between 11 neighborhood boards, successfully fast tracked a bill through the State Legislature for a new approved law for mopeds to reduce the impacting noise problem to the community. Our traffic mitigation working group can achieve the same success provided collaboration can be accomplished between the many communities in West, Leeward and Central Oahu to work this traffic problem. Of the 11 boards that were invited, we had representation from five boards tonight. We need to develop a concept for an alternative freeway from West to South Central Oahu to improve the traffic flow during rush hours. We need to develop this requirement for an alternative freeway and formerly submit this requirement to the State and the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Committee (OMPO) for their review and potential actions. Importantly, this requirement needs to be vetted with U.S. Navy Region Commander at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. For future working group meetings, we need to develop following goals and objectives:

• Identify and Document the traffic and transportation problems for West-Leeward-Central Oahu
• In collaboration between 11 Neighborhood Board Traffic and Transportation Representatives; state the requirement for an alternative freeway to mitigate current and future transportation gridlock
• Document Neighborhood Board, City, State, Military and community creative ideas and suggestions
• Working Group brief the alternative freeway concept to the OMPO CAC and Policy Board members
• Make recommendations to the State DOT and develop a concept for an alternative freeway
• Vet requirement letters for an alternative freeway to City, State, and Congressional Representatives
• Facilitate Congressional Representative meetings with Navy leaderships at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

In developing this requirement, possibly for federally funded freeway, we need to capture lessons learned from the development and building of the H-3 expressway from Kaneohe Marine Corp Station to Pearl Harbor. In 1998, the H-3 was federally funded for 1.3 billion dollars with the requirement to move Marines and equipment from the Marine Base to ships in Pearl Harbor for rapid deployment.

Scope of Traffic Problems for West-Leeward-Central Oahu and their Impact on the Military and Surrounding Communities – Co-Chair Veray reported the following:

• Major Traffic Concerns
• Impact on Military and Shipyard Workers
Traffic conditions are having an impact on military readiness, training, and equipment upkeep. In addition, this impacts shipyard workers, service members and their families’ quality of life in a negative manner. On most mornings, shipyard workers are piled up almost out to the H1 freeway to get onto the base to perform repair work that directly supports the Pacific Fleet. Many military commands have already adjusted schedules (coming in early, and leaving earlier in the day), to the point where the main gates are already starting to pile up at 4:00 a.m. The military has a need to efficiently move and transport munitions, which is currently being hampered by normal “average” traffic conditions. In the need to evacuate the area (emergency evacuation), the options for moving large numbers of people, equipment, and vehicles are limited/restricted.

• Impact on the military moving munitions
Currently military transports extensively use the H1 expressway to leeward and west Oahu in moving ordinance on the highways. There have been great delays while these transports were stuck in traffic primarily on Farrington Highway because of the one way in and one way out of West Oahu. An alternative freeway could be a much safer route.

• Impact on evacuating people during Tsunami – Mr. Rodney Boucher (Subject Matter Expert and member of Oahu Emergency Management Response Team) provided impact to evacuation :

The working group was provided charts showing the coastal danger areas around Oahu; in particular West and Leeward Oahu. The Aleution Islands or ring of fire islands around the Pacific Ocean can produce Tsunami’s in five hours to Oahu. Nanakuli is extremely vulnerable as is Waianae. All people can do is try to evacuate and go as far up the hill as possible to get away from the low coastal areas but most of those roads can’t handle the expected capacity of the evacuation. The highways will be gridlock while people evacuate as what was observed during past Tsunami evacuations. Ewa Beach and West Loch is extremely vulnerable as well. Fort Weaver road would be maximized to capacity with people hopefully taking their “Emergency Go Kits.” We are extremely vulnerable to Tsunami’s at night and during rush hour periods. We could potentially lose many lives if a tsunami hits the West and Leeward coasts catching people who were evacuating and stuck in gridlock. An alternative route out of the West side of the island is a must.

Future Community Development Challenges – Co-Chair Capelouto reported the following:
World population growth data from 1960-2010 were shown, indicating that growth is currently about 1.1% annually per year (or roughly 10 percent per decade). 2010 Census Data for Hawaii State and Honolulu County showed similar patterns of growth, which was compared to state and county totals for housing units. If the premise is to maintain equilibrium, then DPP projections (Ewa Development Plan) of the need for ~70,000 new homes by 2030 appear to be close when using the 1% growth rate per annum, or 10% growth rate per decade. Unfortunately, ALL of this growth is focused in Ewa, Central, or the Leeward coast, instead of being equally distributed around the island. The strain we are feeling is a direct result of the inability of the state and county to keep up with infrastructure and capacity. If nothing is done, the resources needed for the island’s ability to sustain itself will eventually be exhausted. Another way to picture the job DPP has to do is to think about it like driving (deciding on the number of new homes necessary to maintain equilibrium) by looking in the rearview mirror (most recent population census data). Will they hit the mark exactly? Probably not, but they should be “somewhere in the ballpark.” They might want to consider conducting island census data collection every 5 years instead of every 10 years in order to more accurately predict the future.

If we do not maintain some limits on island population (via VISA, student VISA, tourism restrictions, military restrictions), and continue on the same path, we will eventually outstrip our resources, and it could be argued that our “traffic situation” is the first indication, or warning light, that we have already reached that point.

Another way to put in some controls (to slow down the exhaustion of resources), although not popular, is placing limits on new vehicles coming into the state, limiting the number of vehicles people can own, and implementation of an automated system to validate that drivers currently on the road have a current driver’s license, current registration, current safety check, and current insurance. The working group debated this issue at some length.

Co-Chair Capelouto then displayed traffic based on screen counts, discussed “Level of Service” criteria/metrics, with the take-away being that the state and county are NOT meeting Peak Level of Service D during rush hours (4:30 to 9:30 p.m.). It could easily be argued that the state and county have failed to meet the “Adequate Facilities Requirement” in the Ewa Development Plan, which is supposed to be considered the law of the land.

This level of conflict is expected to deteriorate further without significant improvements or changes by government. A majority (64%) of the freeway traffic is feeding into the H1 west of the Waiawa Interchange (H1-H2 merge), i.e., Leeward and Ewa origins. The remaining 36% of freeway traffic feeding into H1 is from Central Oahu coming in from H2. The result is a massive choke point at the H1-H2 merge.

Co-Chair Capelouto presented the situation forecast for 2030, accounting for the additional zipper lane, plus another regular lane, plus the RAIL. The data suggests that in 2030 (or sooner) at maximum capacity using all of these modes of transportation, our infrastructure will FAIL to handle an additional projected 30,000 vehicles, which can be clearly a recipe for disaster (complete gridlock conditions).

Co-Chair Capelouto expressed his concerns that, based on data provided from acknowledged civil engineering expert Dr. Panos Prevedouros, Honolulu RAIL ridership figures are “overly optimistic.” Of the top 50 populated cities in the country with RAIL systems, only New York, Chicago, Washington DC, and San Francisco have RAIL ridership levels exceeding 5 %; for the remaining top 46 cities – RAIL ridership levels are 5% or less. And Honolulu does not even qualify to be in the top 50 populated cities list. RAIL proponents are expecting 10% ridership; Dr. Prevedouros has briefed it would be very unlikely that, Honolulu RAIL will even hit the 2% mark, that is, two percent of the trips done on a typical weekday on Oahu.

Given the statistics on RAIL ridership in the country, it is very likely that the 30,000 Honolulu county vehicles estimate of vehicles – not serviced by the existing infrastructure by 2030, is probably a “very low conservative” estimate of the shortfall. When all the figures – are factored in, it makes it even more apparent, that the road we are on – is one of serious island-wide consequences, if nothing additional is done to address population growth, home growth (and the location of that growth), number of vehicles, and or methods/modes of transportation.

To top things off, operations and maintenance costs, will result in the RAIL system needing significant subsidies of government and taxpayer support to operate. The RAIL along with TOD revenues should have been planned with a goal to be self-contained, and self-supported as much as possible, vice “heavily” subsidized.

Mr. Fancher stated that we need to focus on the number of cars that are currently on the road and what is predicted for the future, not counting people.

Co-Chair Veray stated that it is expected that 70,000 more vehicles will be using H1/H2 merge by 2025 with all the added housing development for West, Leeward and Central Oahu.

Co-Chair Capelouto stated we have already reached full capacity during rush hour traffic.

Mr. Genadio stated that we can’t control the population and more jobs are being moved from downtown area to West and Leeward Oahu. This is also adding to the increase in traffic although they may not be going into town.

Mr. Boucher stated that lessons learned from Singapore should be brought to Oahu with regulating vehicles. Also the West Oahu Neighborhood Boards have requested a tunnel to be built to move their vehicles from West to Central Oahu, State, City and Federal government has not acted on any of these requests.

Co-Chair Veray stated there is a short term plan being developed by Congresswomen Gabbard and Representative Tupola working with both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy to repair the road on the West side of the Kolekole Pass. An MOA is being developed to use this road for emergency vehicles only. This does not address the need for evacuating all the people on the West side of the island.
Co-Chair Capelouto stated screen counts from 2014, indicate over 182,388 vehicles pass in both directions – west of the H1/H2 merge in a 24-hour period. Of those vehicles, 75,984 come from around Kahe Point from the West Coast (2012 screen count). Added to all of the western traffic, is central screen counts from 2014, indicating 102,953 vehicles pass in both directions – from and to H2 in a 24-hour period.

The freeway capacity is maximized (with zipper lanes open) on the H1 during rush hour morning and evenings. There is currently “nowhere enough” infrastructure to move all the traffic that is expected in the future.

Mr. Boucher stated can the government regulate hours for commercial businesses and the military to minimize traffic gridlock during rush hour periods. Some military members at their commands have adjusted their start and stop times at work. Many challenges with regulating work start and stop times.

Mr. Fancher stated that the large cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego have increased their amount of traffic lanes on their freeway with no end to mitigate traffic because of all the development and more cars annually on their roads. As soon as they mitigate their congestion, soon after the new lanes are full.

Mr. Landford stated we just don’t have the space to expand our freeway lanes. We need more entrance and exit ramps on our freeway to reduce some congestion. This has been brought up to the State and City but funding has always been the issue. He said he has tried to work with HDOT as former Traffic Transportation Chair of Nanakuli NB.

Current and Future Challenges using the Kolekole Pass and Schofield Barracks roadway for West Oahu emergency situations – Mr. Landford reported the following

Mr. Richard Landford discussed previous Waianae Town Hall meeting where the Army and Navy discussed the challenges of using the Kolekole Pass as an emergency evacuation route. There is a 1.5 mile stretch of road that is hazardous transit. The Navy does not have the funds to fix the road. Congresswoman Gabbard recommended using cadets to work the road. We need a road from Nanakuli to the Waianae mountain and then across Kunia. There is a lot of land. I think Hawaiian Homelands would be willing to negotiate their land. We need to get this road started. We need to get a meeting with Congresswoman Gabbard and ask for her assistance.

Proposed Alternative Freeway Concept

Co-Chair Veray briefed a PowerPoint presentation on the alternative freeway concept that detailed the traffic problems for West, Leeward and Central Oahu. This presentation was given at the last Makakilo-Kapolei Town Hall meeting. This presentation has been emailed to all the key Neighborhood Board chairs and selected State and City officials. This strawman presentation will be minimized for slides and packaged to be ready to present to a larger forum at the next working group meeting. The concept calls for a freeway to be built from Waianae to the Waianae mountain range for a proposed tunnel to be built allowing traffic to the East side of Kunia and routing to the H1 at University Hawaii West Campus and across the Ewa Plain to Iroquois Point housing area where a proposed tunnel to be built to move the traffic under the entrance of Pearl Harbor to Fort Kamehameha delivering the expected 8,000-10,000 shipyard and military workers to their work areas. (Later after this meeting this number was corrected by Navy Public Affairs as the current 5200 workers). In addition, the proposal is for a causeway to be built from Fort Kamehameha around the Honolulu Airport reef runway 3.1 miles to Sand Island road delivery traffic to downtown area. Although there are concerns with making sure the proposed tunnel and causeway at the entrance of Pearl Harbor can be engineered to not flood from a Tsunami and also not impede any air traffic. For a tunnel to be built through the mountain, the higher the level, the less length of the tunnel and costs.

Proposed Way Ahead and Plan of Action:

Co-chairs Veray and Capelouto and working group members discussed potential ways ahead and what next meeting will deliver with a plan of action
Prior to the next meeting, both Co-Chairs will reach out to all the necessary Congressional, State, City and Federal representatives inviting them to the next meeting. The briefing will be minimized for slides and packaged to be presented to Congressional, State, City and Federal leadership. At the next working group meeting, a joint resolution will be discussed and developed stating the potential requirement for an alternative freeway. An information paper needs to be delivered to U.S. Navy Joint Region Pearl Harbor-Hickam RADM Fuller to vet the Navy into this potential initiative.


• Larry Veray reported that the next special meeting will be on Tuesday, March 16, 2017 at 7:00 P.M. at Kapolei Hale

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

Submitted by: NB No 34, Transportation Chair, D. Kalani Capelouto

Approved / Reviewed by: NB No 21, Transportation Chair Larry Veray – NB No 34, Transportation Chair, D. Kalani Capelouto