January 2007 Home   Newsletters

February 2007

March 2007

President's Message (Piilani Kaopuiki)
League Speaks Out on Rail Project (Pearl Johnson)
Design for a HOT Expressway (Panos Prevedouros)
Women's Health and Safety Committee (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Welcome New Members

Design for a HOT Expressway

An alternative to the proposed rail transit project is a HOT expressway. UH professor of Transportation Engineering Panos D. Prevedouros presents a detailed explanation of what that is.

The only effective solution to Oahu’s traffic congestion on the leeward corridor is a 2- or 3-lane reversible High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) Expressway with several ramps and a handful of intown underpasses. Such a facility will provide extensive flexibility to handle variable surges of traffic due to commuting flows, special events or emergencies.

HOT expressways are primarily express high-occupancy-vehicle and public transit highways with the ability to zip traffic along at 60 miles per hour. As a result, buses can travel 10 miles in about 10 minutes. To put this in context, imagine a city bus which can go from the Waikele Shopping Center to Aloha Tower in about 20 minutes at the height of morning rush hour! No other mass transit facility can provide such a high level of service that will actually persuade some people to leave their private vehicles at home and choose the express bus. On HOT expressways all buses and vanpools travel free of charge at all times.

A 2- or 3-lane reversible highway can serve several thousand vehicles per hour. For example, a 2-lane facility can serve about 3,000 buses in one hour. But there are no 3,000 buses and large vans in all of Oahu to fill the facility. Therefore, such a highway has a lot of room available to serve low occupancy vehicles.

If too many low occupancy vehicles are allowed on it, then the highway will jam, and the speed will be much less than 60 mph. How can this be controlled? With variable tolls that start at $1 for low occupancy vehicles and grow to about $5 at the height of the peak hour. In this way, fewer vehicles enter the HOT highway and its service is maintained at 60 mph.

In other words, the toll enables the government or other project operator to sell unused space to low occupancy vehicles. Tolls can generate a cash flow to pay for the facility. Instantly, this concept makes these highways appealing to investors because a steady income and a reasonable return for their upfront investment for construction can be made.

There are several investment funds worldwide that specialize in tollway and HOT lane development and the U.S. federal government strongly supports PPP, or public-private partnerships. Alternatively, the tolls collected from all-public HOT expressways retire some of the bond debt, and support express bus operations. San Diego does this.

The key to the success of a reversible HOT facility is to design proper ramps for it. It can have 10 ramps that serve as on-ramps in the morning and become off-ramps in the afternoon.

1 to 4) Four ramps to provide access to the HOT lanes from the H-1 and H-2 freeways, and the Farrington and Kamehameha highways.

5) A ramp to Aiea and Hekaha business area.

6) A ramp near Pearl Harbor to serve the strong employment in the area.

7) A ramp into Aloha Stadium to serve events and use the mostly empty parking lot as a park-and-ride facility for express buses.

8) A connection to H-3 freeway.

9) A ramp onto Lagoon Drive to serve the airport and Mapunapuna.

10) A ramp onto Waiakamilo Street to serve Kalihi.

The HOT lanes end in a ramp onto Nimitz Highway, at the point where it widens to four lanes, to serve Honolulu’s center and points beyond. Public transit buses can then continue into town in a flyover Skybus configuration to serve Waikiki and the UH campus at Manoa.

The HOT expressway can be configured to work in four different ways, depending on traffic loads and traffic management needs.

  1. Full inbound, from Waikele to town, during the typical weekday morning travel period.

  2. Full outbound, from town to Waikele, during the typical weekday afternoon travel period.

  3. Split inbound, from Waikele and town to Aloha Stadium and H-3 freeway, before the start of a major event at Aloha Stadium and during most weekends. This configuration also facilitates traffic to windward Oahu in case of a major problem on the Likelike and Pali highways, or other emergency.

  4. Split outbound, from Aloha Stadium and H-3 freeway to Waikele and town, at the end of a major event at Aloha Stadium. This configuration will empty the neighborhoods adjacent to Aloha Stadium in half the current time. Panos Prevedouros
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