HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.R. NO.

162

TWENTY-SEVENTH LEGISLATURE, 2014

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 


HOUSE RESOLUTION

 

 

Urging the governor to reestablish an intra-island ferry to reduce traffic gridlock between the ewa region along the leeward coast of Oahu and downtown honolulu by 2015.

 

 

 


WHEREAS, in the 1970s, the City and County of Honolulu envisioned the creation of a Second City in Kapolei as a second urban core on Oahu to relieve congestion in East Oahu by distributing population growth westward; and

 

WHEREAS, this long-term land use decision gave rise to major developments on the Ewa plains for commercial, office, residential, and industrial uses for both the government and private sector; and

 

WHEREAS, as one of the fastest growing areas of Oahu, the Second City of Kapolei has experienced enormous population growth, from around 43,000 residents in 1990 to approximately 102,000 residents in 2010, with the population projected to grow to roughly 159,000 residents by 2025; and

WHEREAS, the Ewa region is also a dynamically growing area, with thousands of housing units being added to the Ewa plains area over the past several years, and thousands more on the drawing board; and

 

WHEREAS, the growth of Kapolei and Ewa is expected to provide more than 67,000 jobs over the next decade and a half, making this area a regional commercial center and attracting customers from all parts of Oahu; and

 

WHEREAS, in addition to the increasing number of residents, jobs, and homes, other new developments, including the recently opened University of Hawaii at West Oahu campus, the Kroc Center, Kapolei Commons, and Hoakalei, are anticipated to result in increased vehicular flow between the Ewa region and Honolulu which will contribute to the traffic congestion already being experienced along these routes; and

 

WHEREAS, increased traffic congestion between the Ewa region and Honolulu has already reduced quality time for these residents and their families and has emerged as a disincentive for tourists who have wasted valuable time stuck in traffic; and

 

WHEREAS, although residential development and job growth has occurred at a rapid pace decreasing the need for some residents to commute to downtown Honolulu, the Ewa Development Plan of 2011 acknowledges that commuting to downtown Honolulu from the Ewa region remains a problem with the average commute time being at least 75 minutes with 20 percent of commuters spending almost 90 minutes commuting to downtown Honolulu on a regular basis, and commuters have stated that it takes an average of 20 to 25 minutes just to get out of Ewa Beach; and

 

WHEREAS, Honolulu ranked as the second-worst city in the nation for traffic congestion behind gridlocked Los Angeles, and drivers in Hawaii's crowded capital city wasted 60 hours on average sitting in traffic in 2013 compared to 50 hours the previous year, according to an annual report on traffic conditions nationwide; and

WHEREAS, common experience demonstrates that congested conditions exist for the Ewa region because traffic is funneled onto major arterials with insufficient capacity leading from the Ewa marina, up Fort Weaver Road to the H-1 interchange, and from the H-1 interchange to downtown Honolulu; and

 

WHEREAS, adopted in 2002, the Ewa Highway Master Plan identified 15 transportation improvement projects to meet expected growth by providing additional mauka-makai and East-West roadway and freeway capacity; and

 

WHEREAS, most of the solutions to the problem of traffic congestion in the Ewa region, including the Second City of Kapolei, include the building of more traffic infrastructure such as roadways, demonstrated by the recently completed projects of Kualakai Parkway (North-South Road) and Kapolei Parkway, which brought long awaited relief to the severe peak hour congestion on Fort Weaver Road for Ewa Beach, Ewa by Gentry and Ocean Pointe residents; and

 

WHEREAS, an additional transportation alternative to alleviate the traffic congestion between the Ewa region of Oahu, including Kapolei, and downtown Honolulu, is the high-speed rapid transit system; and

 

WHEREAS, while the high-speed rapid transit system currently being built is expected to have an impact on commute times and traffic congestion from the Ewa region of Oahu to downtown Honolulu, the project is not expected to be completed until 2019 and additional alternative means of transportation should be offered to residents and commuters of the Ewa region; and

 

WHEREAS, the Ewa region will experience increased traffic congestion resulting from roadway closures and groundwork during the construction of the high-speed rapid transit system; and

 

WHEREAS, an unused transportation corridor exists in the waters off the Leeward Coast of Oahu that can be utilized to transport individuals between the Ewa region to downtown Honolulu; and

 

WHEREAS, surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, Oahu needs to take advantage of these waterways to reestablish the commuter ferry system that once sailed offshore of Oahu in 2000 and 2007; and

 

WHEREAS, following a pilot project in the 1990s, the benefits of a commuter ferry system between the Ewa region and downtown Honolulu were recognized by the Legislature when Act 263, Session Laws of Hawaii 2002, was enacted, authorizing the Department of Transportation to issue special facility revenue bonds not to exceed $15,000,000 to construct facilities for a ferry service between West and East Oahu; and

 

WHEREAS, a ferry system between the Ewa region and downtown Honolulu would not require environmental studies or large infrastructure costs since harbor infrastructure to support a commuter ferry system already exists in the Ewa region as well as at Honolulu Harbor in downtown Honolulu, and the ferry system would be cheaper and faster to build than any land-based mode of transportation that would require miles of costly construction groundwork; and

 

WHEREAS, while a commuter ferry system may provide a tangible benefit to the residents of Honolulu, particularly commuters from the Ewa region of Oahu, the tourism industry may also benefit by providing visitors to Oahu with another means of viewing the Leeward Coast of Oahu from the ocean, possibly becoming another tourist attraction; and

 

WHEREAS, a commuter ferry system will reduce the volume of cars on the roadways of Oahu, which currently has more than 1,000,000 registered cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles, and motorcycles; and

 

WHEREAS, while commuter ferry systems have been operated between the Ewa region to downtown Honolulu, in particular, between Iroquois Point and Aloha Tower, and Kalaeloa Harbor and Aloha Tower, these ventures ceased operations for a variety of reasons; and

 

WHEREAS, private companies may be interested in collaborating with the State for a public-private partnership that will provide cost savings for the State in reestablishing the commuter ferry system and constructing park-and-ride sites where commuters may park their cars and either walk to or ride a shuttle to the commuter ferry harbor sites; and

 

WHEREAS, with proper forethought and planning, a commuter ferry service between the Ewa region and downtown Honolulu could be beneficial to Oahu commuters, particularly those living in the Ewa region; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Twenty-seventh Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2014, that the Governor of the State of Hawaii is urged to reestablish an intra-island ferry to reduce traffic gridlock between the Ewa region along the Leeward Coast of Oahu and downtown Honolulu by 2015; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Governor is requested to prepare a report to the Legislature regarding the intra-island ferry system that includes:

 

(1) The effect the intra-island ferry had on traffic congestion in the commute between the Ewa region and downtown Honolulu;

(2) The costs associated with the intra-island ferry system, including a cost-benefit analysis of the intra-island ferry system; and

 

(3) Any necessary legislation needed to continue the intra-island ferry system; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Governor submit the report, including the Governor's findings and recommendations, to the Legislature no later than 20 days before the convening of the Regular Session of 2021; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the intra-island ferry system be reassessed after the completion of the high-speed rapid transit system; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Resolution be transmitted to the Governor and the Director of Transportation.

 

 

 

 

OFFERED BY:

_____________________________

 

 

Report Title:

Intra-island ferry; Ewa district; Leeward Coast of Oahu; downtown Honolulu.