If You Build It, Then Maintain It

One of the most constant things going on these days is road repair. You could rationalize the activity as “pre-election” propaganda, but that would be too cynical. It could be possible that it’s all part of a grand plan to maintain something someone else built a long time ago to keep it from collapsing.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of strong and convincing evidence that the City & County of Honolulu has a plan for taking care of repairs to Oahu’s infrastructure.

Take Oahu’s sewer system – overflow and clogged lines are pretty commonplace, but it’s nowhere near the number of water mains exploding around town. City officials have said that fixing the “old” pipes is long overdue and it’s going to cost millions. Seems like every time one explodes, they make sure to say how old it is. One thing is for sure, the people who work at the Board of Water Supply get as much overtime as they can handle. Working around the clock seems to be a once-a-week occurrence on Oahu. Many residents have become experts at retrieving water from emergency water wagons. Last week the BWS put a spigot on a fire hydrant so that residents could get some water to brush their teeth and make their morning coffee and tea.

Water mains don’t have all the attention. After a minor rainstorm lasting a couple of hours, the highways and byways give birth to hundreds of instant potholes. While you are dodging potholes, flooded streets and water wagons, the electricity may go out from lightning, transformer fatigue or someone hitting a utility pole.

Of course, some areas are more prone to these kinds of problems than others. Take Waikane Bridge. Even a moderate spring rainstorm will cause the stream to overflow. It’s been doing that for years with no relief in sight.

There is some good news to report. The flooding in Mapunapuna has been fixed and the businesses in the area don’t have to bring out pontoons during high tide to get their products to market.

More help has come to the city from an old friend, the Lions Clubs of Hawaii. The Lions do so much for the community that its hard to catalog every thing, from collecting eyeglasses for the needy to building shelters for the city’s bus stops. Now, to the city’s surprise, they have volunteered to help the city make short-term repairs to its sidewalks.

The city has about 1,800 miles of sidewalks that need maintenance because of weather damage, tree roots and regular pedestrian use. Volunteer laborers from the Lions Club recently joined the Department of Facility Maintenance in Chinatown to temporarily fix sidewalks around Nuuanu Avenue, Smith Street and Maunakea Street while the city works on a long-term solution.They have scheduled Waikiki work for June. It’s such a popular project that Mayor Carlisle has given it a name, the “Safe Sidewalks Project.” This hints that the city may actually have a “long-term” plan to repair our sidewalks or anything else the city has built.

But you have to wonder if the city has a plan in place to fix its water mains, roads, potholes, bridges and power out-ages. I guess the taxpayers all hope it does. In the meantime, bless the Lions Clubs of Hawaii for always coming to our rescue.

I wouldn’t be surprised if 75 years from now Lions Clubs of Hawaii volunteers would be called upon to fix the rail station seating accommodations in Honolulu.