Report Title:

Highway Design



Ensures that state road and bridge projects adequately meet our transportation needs, exist in harmony with their surroundings, and add lasting value to the communities they serve.



S.B. NO.












SECTION 1. Hawaii's rural communities are the heart and soul of the islands, where the aloha spirit and natural resources are truly the essence of our State. As urbanization spreads throughout Hawaii, these communities are at risk of losing their unique identities, especially when planning for roadway construction that must meet certain highway standards. The standards that most highway designers reference are based on "A Policy on the Geometric Design of Highways and Streets" (commonly called the "Green Book") published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. These standards are not inflexible. As a companion to the Green Book, the Federal Highway Administration has published "Flexibility in Highway Design", which encourages highway designers to expand their consideration in applying the Green Book criteria. It further states, "This guide should be viewed as a useful tool to help highway designers, environmentalists, and the public move further along the path to sensitively designed highways and streets by identifying some possible approaches that fully consider aesthetic, historic, and scenic values, along with safety and mobility".

When Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991, it recognized the importance of good design that is sensitive to its surrounding environment, especially in historic and scenic areas. Aesthetic, scenic, historic, cultural, and natural resources of an area are important factors that create a sense of place and provide communities with an identity. Section 1016(a) of ISTEA states: "If a proposed project involves a historic facility or is located in an area of historic or scenic value, the Secretary may approve the project if the project is designed to standards that allow for preservation of such historic or scenic value and such project is designed with mitigation measures to allow preservation of such value and ensure safe use of the facility".

In 1995, Congress strengthened this position in the National Highway System Act in section 304 that states: "A design for new construction, reconstruction, resurfacing (except for maintenance surfacing), restoration, or rehabilitation of a highway on the National Highway System (other than a highway also on the Interstate System) may take into account, in addition to safety, durability, and economy of maintenance:

(1) The constructed and natural environment of the area;

(2) The environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and preservation impacts of the activity; and

(3) Access for other modes of transportation".

By passage of the federal act, Congress gave the states the flexibility to develop and apply criteria they deem appropriate for federal-aid projects not on the National Highway System. The legislature finds that there is a federal policy framework that encourages creativity and sensitivity, while achieving safety and efficiency. This policy framework recommends early identification of critical project issues and encourages thorough consideration of community concerns and input prior to major decisions which can severely limit all other options.

The legislature finds that organizations such as the Alliance for the Heritage of East Maui, the Hanalei Road Committee on Kauai, and the Hamakua-Honokaa Heritage Corridor on the Big Island, are exploring and supporting concepts such as scenic Byway or Heritage corridor programs. Work is also in progress to recognize the upper Kona road on the Big Island and Ka Iwi coastal highway stretch on Oahu as important scenic and historic corridors. These organizations, which represent their communities' desires, need alternative standards to be adopted by the department of transportation to provide and meet community concerns with regard to natural, cultural, historic, and scenic resources.

It is the intent of the legislature to encourage the highest quality design to ensure that road and bridge projects adequately meet the State's transportation needs, exist in harmony with their surroundings, and add value to the communities they serve.

SECTION 2. On or before January 1, 2002, the director of transportation shall establish new design guidelines to govern new construction, reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration, or rehabilitation of bridges, principal and minor arterial roads, collector and local roads, and streets. The guidelines shall take into account:

(1) Safety, durability, and economy of maintenance;

(2) The constructed and natural environment of the area;

(3) The potential effects on the local and state economies;

(4) The community development plans as reflected in relevant county ordinances;

(5) The environmental, scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and preservation impacts of the activity and;

(6) Access for other modes of transportation.

In establishing the guidelines described under this section, the director shall solicit and consider the views of elected officials and organizations including, but not limited to: those with expertise in environmental protection, historic preservation, scenic conservation, bicycle and pedestrian transportation, as well as regional councils of government, rural development councils, the state foundation on culture and the arts commission, and the Federal Highway Administration.

SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.