State Must Strike Balance In Funding Roadways

This story appeared in the Civil Beat on Thursday, March 29, 2018

The overall condition of Hawaii’s highways rank near the bottom when compared to other states, according to an annual state highway report released last month by the Reason Foundation. Hawaii ranked 47th overall in highway performance and cost-effectiveness, and 50th – worst in the nation — in terms of urban interstate pavement condition.

That means havoc for your car and, with the state deferring traffic mitigation projects to focus on maintenance, countless hours for you spent in traffic.

While the Hawaii Department of Transportation is working with available funding and resources to address these roadway concerns, the increased adoption of electric vehicles is prompting the department to take another look at how the state is going to fund roadway maintenance and improvements heading into the future.

First, we should give credit where credit is due: The DOT is thinking proactively. In response to evolving driving behavior, whether actual or anticipated, it’s appropriate to start considering long-term options and how they pencil out.

Today, the state’s gas tax is the largest source of funding for our state’s highways, contributing approximately 31 percent of revenue for maintenance and new construction projects. Owners of EVs, which make up only 0.63 percent of Hawaii’s 1.06 million passenger vehicles, do not contribute into that fund.

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