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American Voter's Bill of Rights
President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Honolulu Convention Center II (Astrid Monson)
Planning and Zoning Committee Up-date (Astrid Monson)
Public Participation in the Legislative Process (Evelyn Bender)
General Membership Meeting
League of Women Voters Presents - Choice (Linda Chinn)
Membership and Anniversary Dates
Advertising on Buses
Available for Circulation
Mythology of Growth and Transportation
UPW Vote Count
Editorial from Pacific Business News - 11/20 (George Mason)
Welcome
In Memoriam
Council Observer Corps

Editorial from Pacific Business News - 11/20

If cholesterol is bad for the human circulatory system, then the automobile had been bad for our physical here-to-there circulatory network.

Unclogging our street and highway arteries is discussed more than is the effect of cholesterol on our hearts. So, how do we improve the health of our transportation arteries? Is there a solution or a set of solutions that haven't yet been applied, or even studied? Sure, and the reasons may be more political than economic.

Common sense would dictate many changes, but the results of applied common sense frequently don't make good emotional sense to people affected by change.

Poorly designed on/off ramps on Honolulu's freeways are as much a cause of backups as is the lack of lanes to move the volume of cars. Some ought to be eliminated, others restructured.

In the City Center there are numerous reasons for congestion. Chief among them is permitting left turns on two-way streets. The mess at Ward and Kapiolani is the worst of the worst cases. Another is on-street parking (and loading/unloading) that turns a four-lane street into a two-laner. If streets were intended to move traffic, then that's all they should be used for.

The lack of off-street parking reflects a monumental lack of foresight. The argument goes that parking garages are too expensive and people won't pay garage rates. Nonsense. The cost of condemning land in City Center plus the cost of street widening and paving is equal to or higher than the cost of building parking garages on a per-stall basis. Extra lanes of traffic could be opened up in short order without widening a single street simply by building garages every two or three blocks. Now is an especially good time to do this in Kakaako, but our guess is that the area will be fully built up before anyone catches on to the solution to an evitable dilemma.

One-way configurations in crowded corridors must be given more serious consideration than in the past. For example, the Beretania/King one-way system works beautifully -- especially because traffic lights are timed. Why not convert Ala Moana and Kapiolani into one-way streets? They're approaching the limit of their capacities."

"An idea that makes sense is to double or triple the number of buses and to provide exceptionally frequent service almost everywhere on Oahu -- and to make the system free to all. Expensive? Not if you consider the hundreds of millions that could be saved by not having to widen streets or build new freeways or provide immense numbers of off-street parking stalls. How to pay for it? Use the highway fund that's derived from taxes on gasoline. Why shouldn't those who continue to drive help pay for the bus service? After all, it will unclog the roadways and calm the nerves.

It's easy to glibly provide solutions to present and future traffic problems; it's extremely difficult to sell them politically. And business is partly to blame. Thousands of merchants would scream if you propose to get rid of on-street parking -- even if you build a garage a block or two away. The same likely will occur when streets are converted to one-way or when left turns are eliminated.

Try anything and there'll be protests. Maybe even lawsuits. That's why politicians are gun-shy and seldom commit to good sense solutions. Gripes about status quo are always easier to absorb and ignore than are gripes about proposed changes. People hate change more than they hate existing misery.

There are numerous solutions to current and future traffic problems. What there isn't is the fortitude to act decisively with concern for political repercussions."

George Mason
Publisher

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