Caldwell focuses on transportation, infrastructure in inaugural address
Mayor: "When others say, 'No can!' we say, 'How can?'"
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell had five main priorities in his inaugural State of the City Address on Wednesday.
Caldwell started with restoring city bus service on Oahu. The first round of bus route restoration started in March and five more routes are scheduled in May. The restoration is expected to be completed in August.
"I’ve dedicated 3.5 million dollars in my budget to cover this priority, and we are going to better integrate TheBus into the overall City plan for transportation services," said Caldwell.
Caldwell says 43 percent of city roads on Oahu are in poor condition. That's why he is proposing to spend $150 million annually repaving 300 lane miles per year over the next five years.
"On this schedule, we will fix the majority of Honolulu city roads that are in bad condition, and I will start a repavement preservation program of the roads that are in 'good' condition starting in July," said Caldwell. "In the last seven years, the city paved about 1,000 lane miles. Those roads will last five to 10 more years with proper maintenance, which I am committed to do."
The mayor pointed out the critical part the city's sewer infrastructure plays in our lives.
"If we don’t have enough sewer capacity, the city cannot approve new development projects, large or small, across the island, which will have a negative impact on our growing construction industry," said Caldwell. "The City agreed to complete 477 projects to comply with the consent decree, which we entered in December 2010. So far, we have completed 297 or 57 percent of those projects, and we have met every single project due date."
The city has 180 project remaining including the Kaneohe/Kailua Gravity Tunnel and the Secondary Treatment Facilities at Honouliuli and Sand Island.
Caldwell is putting $11.8 million to repairing and improving park facilities, with special attention to restrooms, playground equipment, lighting and recreational facilities. He will also be putting in $1.3 million for maintenance equipment.
"To me, all of the great cities of the world have great parks -- Central Park in New York City, Hyde Park in London, Stanley Park in Vancouver, Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, Ueno Park in Tokyo to name just a few," said Caldwell. "I want Honolulu to have that distinction, too."
Part of Caldwell's mayoral campaign was to "Build Rail Better." It's also a part of his mayoral address.
"HART completed its Archaeological Inventory Survey two months ahead of schedule, and is ready to start construction in West Oahu later this year," said Caldwell. "If we want to maintain public confidence in this project, we need to make improvements based on community concerns, and demonstrate fiscal responsibility, and transparency, at every phase."
Caldwell maintained that public transportation will work hand-in-hand.
"Together, rail and bus will serve as critical components of our transportation system for generations to come. It’s not rail vs. bus. It’s rail and bus," said Caldwell.
The mayor also said the problem of homelessness is an issue that needs immediate attention.
"As you know, Bill 7, a bill addressing nuisances on public sidewalks, is progressing through the City Council," said Caldwell. "If this bill passes, I will sign it."
Caldwell is also focusing on housing the chronically homeless as quickly as possible as the first step toward recovery.
The mayor ended with a commitment to take care of our kupuna.
"There are so many ways that we can make things easier for seniors," said Caldwell. "I want to improve the HandiVan service, and I want to look at the way we approve permits for home improvements to help aging-in-place."
Click here for a full transcript of the State of the City Address.
KITV4 News will have more on the mayor's address tonight at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
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