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2005 Meeting Highlights

October Meeting Summary

The October luncheon meeting was held on October 18, 2005 at the Bishop Museum. The speaker for the luncheon was Paul Won from the City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services who spoke about crosswalks and pedestrian crossings. Mr. Won presented a general overview of pedestrian crossings and crosswalks, including their use, warrants and locations. In addition, he also covered pedestrian and driver responsibilities under the recently enacted pedestrian safety law.

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September Meeting Summary

The September luncheon meeting was held on September 20, 2005 at the Bishop Museum. The guest speaker was Mr. Don Hamada from the City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services who discussed the lessons learned from the City’s Smartcard Project. The Smartcard system would have replaced bus passes with an automated card system to reduce overall cost, increase operational efficiency, reduce fraud, and provide boarding data. Although the implementation of the system initially seemed easy, the City soon encountered some difficulties with the system which included:

    • The card reader had difficulty in reading the card as it has to be held in a certain position.
    • The read / write speed was slow (2 to 3 seconds per user).
    • 550 buses needed to be corrected
    • There were database errors
    • There were GPS software propriety obstacles and was not hooked-up as a result.
    • The Point-of-Sale (card outlets) aspects were unsecured.

Due to these and other difficulties, the contract for the system was eventually cancelled on May 17, 2005. Continuation of the system would have required City Council approval. Most of the initial units remain on the buses due to the high cost of salvaging and removal of the devices from all of the buses. In addition, the devices are already obsolete and cannot be sold for practical use. Some of the lessons learned from this experience include:

    • A feasibility study should be conducted to evaluate customer convenience and “buy-in.” However, it would be difficult to relate costs to customer convenience benefits.
    • The operating cost of $300,000 per year should be considered. There need to be a continued commitment for CIP and operating budgets to support services.
    • Software was custom-designed. This was problematic due to propriety and flexibility issues. Off-the-shelf software would have been more convenient to integrate any changes.
    • A multi-modal ticketed device would have been preferred. Perhaps an add-on to a widely established bank card or other debit system.
    • A faster device would have been preferred.
    • A better way to distribute smartcards would be preferred.

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August Meeting Summary

The August luncheon meeting was held on August 16, 2005 at the Bishop Museum. The guest speaker was Dr. Panos D. Prevedouros, Professor from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who discussed the results of his Demonstration of Lunalilo Street On-ramp Closure to H-1 Freeway project. Dr. Prevedouros has performed complex computer modeling of traffic behavior along the H-1 Freeway and related surfaced streets for the State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation, Highways Division (HDOT). The most cost-effective recommendation identified through the modeling along the H-1 Freeway was o close the on-ramp at Lunalilo Street during the morning peak traffic period. A demonstration project was conducted by HDOT to perform an actual physical closure of the ramp in accordance with the modeling assumptions. The closure involved deployment of flexible, heavy-base delineators spaced approximately 10 feet on-center to prevent vehicles from entering the freeway at Lunalilo Street On-ramp. These vehicles were directed to Vineyard Boulevard where freeway access could be made at Punchbowl Street, School Street (via Nuuanu Street or Aala Street), or at the western end of Vineyard. The overall results of the demonstration project showed a freeway speed increase in the westbound direction by 3 to 5 mph. There was a volume gain of over 1,000 vph along a screeline set at the Punahou On-ramp. The demonstration period was originally scheduled for a 3-month period beginning in October 2004. However, over a year later, it is still in operation due to the positive benefits to westbound freeway commuters being realized in the morning.

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July Meeting Summary

The July Meeting was held on July 19, 2005 at the Bishop Museum. The guest speaker was Mr. Toru Hamayasu, Planning Chief, City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services who shared some important lessons learned from rapid transit development in Honolulu. Over the years there have been several attempts at developing a rapid transit system for Honolulu (tThese include PEEP1, PEEP2, Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART), and most recently, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system) and the following are the three main lessons learned from these endeavors:

Lesson No. 1 – Local Funding Commitment

The City failed in 1980 and 1991 to secure local matching funds of approximately $500 million to $620 million for the HART project. Due to these failures, momentum for the project eventually dwindled and led the City to search for different transportation solutions. More significantly, these failed attempts showed a lack of commitment by the local government and caused embarrassment for the Federal Transit Authority (FTA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as well as the local congressional delegation. Consequently, federal agencies now require that matching funds be committed first for any future projects.

Lesson Learned No. 2 – Procurement of a Large and Complex Project

The procurement system that was planned to be used by Honolulu was innovative and did not require total funding to initiate the project. The process involved having separate notices to proceed (NTP) based on the available funds. Although this system allowed the project to move forward with minimum matching funds, there were some negative consequences. Since the performance bond for the entire project was nearly impossible to attain due to the amount ($1.7 billion), the federal agencies agreed that the contract could be divided into major components and that only outlays for those segments would need to be bonded. However, these segments still required significant amounts of over $250 million per package and would have restricted bidding to only the largest companies thereby excluding local contractors from participating.

Lesson Learned No. 3 – Public Outreach

The City undertook a significant public outreach effort and produced detailed technical engineering and planning documentation during the planning and environmental process. However, they soon discovered that these documents were too technical for many of the recipients and that even after intensive circulation and review of documents by the public officials, planners, special interest groups and the general public, there was still confusion regarding the benefits and impacts of the project. Subsequently, other techniques such as computer animations, in-field “ride-throughs,” and actual noise generators are now being considered to help facilitate better visualization and comprehension of the completed system.

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June Meeting Summary

The June luncheon meeting was held on June 21, 2005 at the Bishop Museum. The featured speaker was Mr. Brian Sekiguchi, Deputy Director of the State DOT Airports Division. Mr. Sekiguchi discussed the existing air traffic and facilities at the various airport facilities around the state. These facilities include the airports in Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Kahului, and Lihue. He also discussed upcoming improvement projects at each of the airports which include renovation and/or expansion of existing passenger and aircraft facilities.

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May Meeting Summary

The May luncheon meeting was held on May 24, 2005 at the Bishop Museum. The featured speaker was Mr. Barry Fukunaga, Deputy Director of the State DOT Harbors Division. Mr. Fukunaga discussed some for the Harbor facilities and their current use. Most of the cargo and commercial activities occur near the Kapalama Basin and Channel while cruise ship activities are housed in Piers 1 and 2. These activites currently compete for limited Harbors facility space and projected growth in all of these industries will require expansion of current facilities. However, space limitation and security issues make planning a challenging task. Harbors has updated their 2020 Master Plan which includes the expansion of the existing cruise ship facilities at Piers 1 and 2.

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April Meeting Summary

The April luncheon meeting was held on April 4, 2005 in the Campus Center at the University of Hawaii Manoa.

The featured speaker was Mr. Zaki Mustafa, ITE District 6 President. Mr. Mustafa spoke of the ITE mission to make communities a better place through encouraging careers in transportation. To promote this mission, Mr. Mustafa highlighted activities such as mentoring and networking. He also explained about an endowment fund available for students.

Mr. Mustafa is also the Chief of the Bureau of Field Operations in the City of Los Angeles, and he shared some of the techniques that are being used to reduce pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles. Mr. Mustafa explained that 7% of the accidents in L.A. involve a pedestrian and 70% of the fatalities involve a pedestrian. To reduce these incidents, the Bureau of Field Operations has installed the following three features. The first is a smart pedestrian warning. It is a traffic signal that pulses three times a second, to alert drivers to a pedestrian crossing. The second feature is a pedestrian video detection unit. This unit uses infrared to detect pedestrians waiting to cross a roadway. Third, the City of L.A. is employing the use of in-road flashers. Use of the in-road flashers have increased driver compliance by 25 to 74%.

Mr. Mustafa then recognized the following people for their contributions to the local chapter of ITE:

Cheryl Yoshida for her work as Hawaii Council Engineering Society Exhibit Chair.
Cathy Leong for her work on the ITE Section 6 Meeting to be held in Hawaii in 2006.
Julian Ng for his work as Technical Committee Chair from 1998 to present.
Ty Fukumitsu for his efforts to create the award winning ITE Engineer’s Week Display.

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March Meeting Summary

The March luncheon meeting was held on March 17, 2005 in the Paki Room at the Bishop Museum.

The featured speaker was Mr. Gordon Lum, Executive Director of the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization (OMPO). Mr. Lum discussed Oahu transportation issues. He explained how elements such as forecasts of population and employment are used to formulate a regional transportation plan. Using forcasting models, Mr. Lum demonstrated peak traffic and travel times to downtown Honolulu in 2030. Mr. Lum also informed the group that OMPO invites the public to participate in meetings about transportation planning issues. In addition, Mr. Lum shared that OMPO conducts telephone surveys to extend the reach of its public involvement process.

Mr. Lum then addressed the topic of mass transit. He explained that conducting phone surveys about transit, resulted in the following results:

44% of the people interviewed favored transit as the solution to Oahu’s congestion problem. 45% of the group supported increasing roadway efficiency or capacity. The remaining percentage was undecided.

47% of the survey group was willing to pay a tax to fund a transportation solution.
31% said they were unwilling to pay a tax to fund a transportation solution.
The remaining percentage was undecided.

70% of the people surveyed expressed support for a rail system.

Mr. Lum stressed that to secure federal funds to make a transit option such as rail a reality, Hawaii has to demonstrate a firmly established funding source. Hawaii must present a financial plan that addresses construction, operation and maintenance of the transit system. Mr. Lum said there is increasingly stiff competition for limited Federal funding. For example, in 1992 there were 18 projects proposed nationwide for Federal Transit Administration funds, in 2003 there were 85 projects proposed.

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February Meeting Summary

The February luncheon meeting was held on February 24, 2005 at Kahala Mall. In recognition of Engineer’s Week, the group viewed the engineering displays on exhibit at the mall. Members of the Hawaii Section also participated in the Engineer’s Banquet at the Ala Moana Hotel on February 26, 2005. During this ceremony, the ITE exhibit was recognized as the best overall display.

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January Meeting Summary

The January luncheon meeting was held on January 12, 2005 at the YWCA in Downtown Honolulu. The meeting was a joint endeavor with the American Planning Association.

The featured speaker was Mr. Rodney Haraga, Director of the Hawaii Department of Transportation. Mr. Haraga discussed the new Department of Transportation Planning Division. The Central Planning Office (CPO) consolidates planning functions from the Airports, Harbors, and Highways Divisions. Mr. Haraga explained that the CPO will perform long-term and intermediate planning studies and analysis. Preliminary engineering activities will continue to reside in each modal division. Planning is being centralized to promote the idea of a seamless transportation network. To illustrate his point, Mr. Haraga described the modal interdependencies that occur at the Kahalui airport. The CPO is a key component to systematically address transportation needs. Mr. Haraga stressed it is imperative that transportation projects be prioritized based on needs. He envisions system-wide data collection and needs analysis will be a function performed by the CPO.

To facilitate outreach and ensure local consultation, Mr. Haraga will visit the outer islands four times a year. He intends to use these field reviews to see and hear about transportation issues on the outer islands such as access control on Queen Kaahumanu Highway on the Big Island.

The transfer of information between the CPO and the Divisions is critical. Mr. Haraga informed the group that the Department of Transportation, Highways Division and the Federal Highway Administration will be hosting a workshop to discuss and explore the linkage between planning and environmental project development activities. The workshop is scheduled for late April 2005.

Mr. Haraga was asked if he has received comments from the Hawaii Legislature about a needs-driven transportation project selection process. Mr. Haraga shared that representatives in the Legislature have been supportive of such an approach. Mr. Haraga stated that everyone wants a predictable process.

Mr. Haraga then briefly discussed additional topics raised by the audience. These topics included the Hawaii Superferry, the scenic byways program, and recruitment/staffing challenges at the State Department of Transportation.