Sunday, April 02, 2006

Our Highways and Roads Must Be a Priority

I have to state the obvious: Roads in Hawaii need attention . . .now! For several years I keep coming back to the need for our state to start thinking about roadways from a sustainability position, which is directly related to financial and safety issues.

Millions of tax dollars are spent every year fixing Hawaii's asphalt roads. For a few months these patched, repaved, or new roads are smooth. However, after several rains, baking sun, buses, gas guzzling suv, etc., these roads begin to look like washboards.

Case in point, the recent torrential downpours have created cavernous pits where little pot-holes once were. Drive down Ala Moana or any of the streets in the city of Honolulu and you literally have to dodge deep holes.

However, drive down any streets that are concrete and you'll note a significant difference. I remarked to my friend just the other day when we were driving on a street that had not been covered with blacktop but, which looked to be twenty or thirty year old concrete how good of shape it was in.

We hear a lot of talk about sustainable living in Hawaii these days. Our system of roads is not above this discussion. Investing in concrete roadways makes sense: Concrete roads are less expensive to maintain, meaning that the initial laying of concrete may be more expensive but in the long run we don't have to overlay it every five years.

It's also less environmentally damaging. Petroleum based asphalt contributes to our dependence on oil and the runoff from these roads is more polluted.

Let's also consider the climate we live in. Concrete is structurally more sound then asphalt in a hot, tropical environment. It also, and this is significant, reflects more of the sun's energy (translating into heat) then asphalt (which absorbs the heat) therefore cooling the ambient temperature by up to five degrees.

So why not invest in roadways that are more economically responsible, environmentally sound, and more efficient in general?


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