Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rail Critic Calls HART’s Financial Recovery Plan Shallow

"It's the same people trying to make the soup, and nobody's a chef, " said University of Hawaii Engineering Chairman Panos Prevedouros.
The outspoken rail critic poured over the financial rail recover plan as it was released online Monday.
He essentially concluded its another recipe for disaster.
He called the revised plan "shallow," lacking real meaningful data.
"There are not major updates, there is no information about how to make things better. Value engineering, mistakes we made, how we are going to fix those mistakes we made? Everything is dispatched in four pages. This is not really a sincere effort," Prevedouros said.
Prevedouros was also disappointed the report didn't include updated ridership numbers.
He isn't assured the new CEO Andrew Robbins who he called a train sales man is the right choice to complete the most complicated leg of the rail route.
"What does he know about multiple construction projects with big geo-technical problems, real estate problems and all kinds of issues of doing big construction in a very dense urbanized area?  Nothing!” said Prevadouros.
At last week’s HART meeting, Robbins praised the changes made in the last year under interim CEO Krishniah Murthy.
He did also acknowledge the risks in this last and most complicated leg of the 20-mile route and the expectation that HART will watch every penny given the directive from the state.
"We have to step up our game and perform we have been given this additional funding and we have to perform on that budget and that schedule,” said Robbins.
Prevedouros laments the loss of institutional knowledge following the departure of key HART personnel and isn't sure what to make of the defection of construction point man Brennon Morioka to Hawaiian Electric during this critical path of construction and under grounding of utilities.
It remains to be seen if the plan will pass muster with the Federal Transit Authority, but Prevedouros believes we need to do better to explain how we are going to save not millions, but billions.
"If you don't learn from your mistakes, you are bound to repeat them and they will, Prevedouros said.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Great Train Robbery

"The now nearly 50-year experiment with transit subsidies has fallen well short of expectations. A more practical result could be obtained by better prioritization of funding to meet the greatest needs in the metropolitan reality as it currently exists. . . . In the cities without legacy cores, and in the suburbs of cities with legacy cores, we should focus on the needs of those unable to provide their own mobility. This is far more socially responsible than adding expensive services such as urban rail that have shown virtually no evidence of reducing driving alone. . . . In the vast majority of markets, transit has not lured drivers from their cars to relieve congestion or improve air quality. And it is wasteful to commit transit funds to achieve purposes other than improved transportation, such as city-building or place-making. Transportation is too important to economic growth and prosperity to be subject to utopian notions."

–Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox, "The Great Train Robbery: Urban Transportation in the 21st Century," Center for Demographics & Policy, Chapman University, 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Academic Critical of Overblown Budget on Hawaii Rail Project

Interviewed by Radio New Zealand:

"We should have put aside monies, which is really trivial given the overall scope, and a couple of million dollars at most would have done it, for a national forensic expert on transit systems to come and look at what is really happening here and how come our transit system is two to three times more expensive than other comparable US systems," Panos Prevedouros said.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Waves Eat Away Part of Kamehameha Hwy.

Allyson Blair reports on the worsening erosion along Kamehameha Hwy.

Traffic engineering expert Panos Prevedouros agrees.

"It's a major risk. The pavement is undermined so it can collapse in a small or large degree, to which I don't know, at any time," said Prevedouros.

Prevedouros says the road needs immediate repair. In the meantime drivers shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the undermined asphalt.

"Everything in that area seems to be completely eroded. Therefore even the crash guard that looks to be okay, although it has some rust on the backside, it may be structurally compromised," said Prevedouros.

Tourists to Help Pay for Beleaguered Honolulu Rail

Quoted in this article in Travel Pulse. I had no idea but Google found it for me...

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Flooding in Mapunapuna?

Quoted in Alexander Zane's story on KHON about the repeated flooding in Mapunapuna.

Several years ago, the city installed a duckbill drainage system to get storm water out and keep ocean water from coming in.

But according to Panos Prevedouros, chair of the UH Manoa Dept. Of Civil and Environmental Engineering, anything more would come with a hefty price.

“Basically you’d need to have a storage system and a pump system to pump the storm water out of it. Essentially close the connection. You have to cut the cord with the ocean so the ocean never comes in,” Prevedouros explains.

As for the option of installing a pump system to get water out of the area, Panos Prevedouros says it probably won’t happen.

“I’m pretty sure that the area does not generate significant county taxes to justify a huge investment. That’s probably what the problem has been all this time. If the area was upgraded with more expensive real estate so that the county can collect more taxes than a more sophisticated solution could be put in place, so it’s a trade-off kind of thing,” Prevedouros said.


A couple more things to add here:

Duckbills can get clogged by debris and then they remain open allowing ocean water to intrude. In all likelihood they do not work as City claims because the area flooded during king tides in July this year.

Given the relatively low property value of this area, it makes sense to provide incentives for small businesses to relocate and return this large parcel to nature. That is, treat this area as a small estuary:  The Mapunapuna pond.

In addition, Charles Hunt saw this story and contacted me with the following important perspective and information:

An added perspective that occurs to me is that such systems will become increasingly necessary, what with progressive sea-level rise, so the City will eventually have to start installing some. Mapunapuna could be an early prototype for the City to gain experience with system designs, learning which systems and consultants have “proven out” in other locales, which systems offer best cost/reliability characteristics, etc. Or – if tax-base is an overriding consideration – perhaps another locale like Waikiki or Downtown will become the first prototype.

Here’s a link to the gateway page for my report, there’s a full PDF of the report available at the page. We installed some instrumentation to record water levels and the pump on-off duty cycle and were able to tell a few stories about drainage from the watershed and how the pump-out system operated during a couple of rain storms over the year of study:

Hunt, Charles D., Jr.; De Carlo, Eric H., Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4171: Hydrology and Water and Sediment Quality at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge near Kahuku, Island of Oahu, Hawaii, 2000.

Hunt also suggested that a camera system can be used to monitor the operation of the duckbills.