The project was 25 percent over budget and completion was delayed by six months, but on Thursday Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the conclusion of resurfacing along Waialae Avenue, from 1st Avenue to the H1 Freeway.
"We could've picked easy streets and done more of the easy ones, (but) we tackled this one because it's so heavily traveled," Caldwell told reporters during a news conference in front of Kaimuki Community Park.
The busy roadway through the heart of Kaimuki was last resurfaced in 1990. The project was supposed to cost taxpayers $9.3 million, however "soft spots" found under the old pavement increased the cost to $11.7 million.
"That's just due to the unforeseen conditions that we had encountered during the project," said Mark Yonamine, acting director for the city's Department of Design and Construction. "Once we excavated and got down there, it was definitely more extensive than we thought."
Once Waialae Avenue is restriped, drivers will notice new bike lanes and "sharrows" from Kapahulu Avenue to 17th Avenue. Sharrows are symbols that tell drivers they must share the road with bicyclists until it's safe to pass.
"When the lane is too narrow for a car and bike to ride safely side by side in the same lane, the bicycle can use the full lane, which means going in the middle of it," explained Hawaii Bicycling League President Chad Taniguchi. "And that's the way I ride, that's the way other people ride because we know it's safer."
The mayor used completion of the Waialae Avenue resurfacing project to provide an update on his goal of repaving 1,500 lane miles on Oahu over five years. In 2013 the city repaved 398 lane miles and so far this year 203 lane miles have been finished. Roads are being repaved according to a 2012 Pavement Condition Report that rated city roads on a score of zero to 100.
"Really, the solution to potholes is repaving our roads that should've been repaved a long time ago," said Caldwell. "I'm not interfering with the decisions that are being made on where to repave first, there is a system to it."
Under current city guidelines, utility companies are not supposed to trench or cut into a newly paved road like Waialae Avenue for at least a year, unless there's an unforeseen emergency like a water main break. However, Councilman Stanley Chang issued a news release last month saying he wanted to increase the moratorium to two years. Caldwell said he's open to Chang's idea or possibly even fining utility companies if they dig up newly repaved roads.
"I'll jog up roads that were repaved, and I see them dug up and I get very upset," said the mayor. "I'm looking for ways to incentivize the utility companies, whether it be public or private, to get on board when we repave a road … so when the road is repaved it doesn't get dug up again for another 10 to 15 years."