THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the federal Department of Transportation intends to modernize its planning and projects throughout the country by implementing two primary goals, which include equity for all communities and addressing climate change. The State of Hawaii has adopted similar goals including reaching one hundred per cent clean energy and a carbon negative economy by 2045.
The legislature further finds that in addition to modernizing transportation by meeting these new state and national goals in Hawaii's transportation planning and projects, the way people use transportation in Hawaii has already begun to rapidly change. For example, the number of Hawaii's youngest licensed drivers, between the ages of fifteen and nineteen, has plummeted nearly forty per cent in the last twenty-five years. In addition to the generational shift away from cars, today many drivers are switching from traditional gas cars to modern electric vehicles, with sales increasing exponentially between twenty and thirty per cent each year.
These changes are due, in part, to increased cost of living and transportation expenses. For instance, buying or leasing a car also includes other fees such as monthly auto insurance premiums, fuel costs, and vehicle maintenance expenses, which makes owning a car the most expensive form of transportation. A recent report by AAA insurance company noted that these additional expenses, on average, cost each car owner an additional $8,849 per year. However, utilizing public transportation, biking, walking, and living close to work can significantly reduce the cost of transportation and measurably improve public health. Yet, in those communities in which there is no infrastructure available to travel except by car, residents are forced to pay a higher cost of living expenses and enjoy fewer options to improve their quality of life.
In Hawaii and around the country, inequitable investments into infrastructure have exacerbated costs and health disparities among different communities. Low-income areas typically have less access to bike lanes, sidewalks, and safe forms of cheaper transportation. This leaves low-income households in auto-centric communities more likely to fall into poverty, which is exacerbated in rural areas with no access to transit and longer distances between destinations. One direct outcome of this problem has resulted in drivers striking and killing people who walk in low-income neighborhoods at a much higher rate than in high income neighborhoods due to a lack of safe infrastructure.
The legislature further finds that while Hawaii's progress to one hundred per cent clean energy by 2045 has reduced emissions and the cost of electricity for local residents by decreasing a reliance on costly imported fossil fuels, vehicles now account for nearly two-thirds of Hawaii's greenhouse gas emissions and increasing cost to taxpayers. Today, clean electric vehicles are already less expensive to operate and maintain than traditional gas cars, and are now similar in price. Modernizing ground transportation to support the switch to electric vehicles will not only reduce long-term costs for local commuters, but will also help meet Hawaii's goals to eliminate fossil fuels in ground transportation and sequester more greenhouse gasses than the State emits by 2045.
Additionally, rethinking the way Hawaii builds ground transportation infrastructure will not only reduce the cost of living and improve the quality of life for local residents, it will also serve as an economic stimulus. Greenways, sidewalks, and bike facilities have the largest return on their investment, stimulating construction and economic benefits by approximately seventeen to one, because of the varied nature of the work. Simply adding lanes to roads or bridges only produces benefits of between nine and twelve, to one. Streets with additional access to cheaper forms of transportation, such as bike lanes, have also been reliably shown to improve visitors and revenues at area businesses by as much as forty percent.
The legislature further finds that over the last century, Hawaii's ground transportation was built as a car-centric system, with little attention to alternatives, which has raised the cost of living in the islands, impacted quality of life, and resulted in some of the highest transportation-related fatality rates in the nation. Merely adding lanes to reduce traffic does not address Hawaii's most pressing traffic, safety, health, and other issues. In fact, it can often make them worse. Studies show the traffic benefits of spending tens of millions of dollars adding lanes to accommodate more cars are often eliminated in just a few years by additional cars incentivized to take up that space. Those funds could have had a more significant and longer-lasting benefit reducing traffic and addressing other issues by building alternative options for people to commute by improving public transportation, biking, or walking, especially for those who can least afford it.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to modernize Hawaii's ground transportation infrastructure by providing additional metrics, considerations, and assistance to the department of transportation in order to move Hawaii forward into the twenty-first century by:
(1) Reducing transportation costs to local residents;
(2) Minimizing injuries and fatalities;
(3) Improving public health and quality of life; and
(4) Addressing greenhouse gas emissions.
SECTION 2. Chapter 264, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding four new sections to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
"§264- Ground transportation facilities. (a) There shall be planned for and established a contiguous network of motor vehicle highways connecting communities throughout each island, in which intersections with other modes of transportation shall be minimized, in which a priority and preference shall be given for access by public mass transportation.
(b) There shall be planned for and established a contiguous network of bicycle and electric bicycle highways connecting communities throughout each island, in which intersections with other modes of transportation shall be minimized, which shall be separated and protected from vehicular traffic by physical or natural barriers or by meaningful distance or elevation.
(c) There shall be planned for and established a contiguous network of pedestrian highways connecting communities throughout each island, in which intersections with other modes of transportation shall be minimized, which shall be separated and protected from vehicular and bicycle traffic by physical or natural barriers, or by meaningful distance or elevation.
(d) Within each community or communities, the department shall ensure each county plans for and establishes, and the department plans for and establishes any state portions of:
(1) A contiguous bicycle and pedestrian network connecting all public schools and libraries in each school complex to one another, and to its respective state and county transportation infrastructure, in which intersections with other modes of transportation shall be minimized, which shall be separated and protected from vehicular traffic by physical or natural barriers, or by meaningful distance or elevation;
(2) A contiguous bicycle and pedestrian network connecting commercial business and shopping hubs to residential areas, and to its respective state and county transportation infrastructure, in which intersections with other modes of transportation shall be minimized, which shall be separated and protected from vehicular traffic by physical or natural barriers, or by meaningful distance or elevation; and
(3) Pedestrian exercise and active health pathways of meaningful length in which intersections with other modes of transportation shall be minimized, which shall be separated and protected from vehicular traffic by physical or natural barriers, or by meaningful distance or elevation, which are easily accessible to residential and high density communities where appropriate.
§264- Project goals. (a) When planning, designing, and implementing ground transportation infrastructure, the department shall consider and pursue goals in each project to:
(1) Assess and maximize total throughput of people across all modes of transportation;
(2) Meet complete streets goals as defined in section 264‑20.5;
(3) Reduce vehicle miles traveled;
(4) Provide capacity to meet future model share goals established by the ground transportation modernization commission;
(5) Provide equity for all communities and users;
(6) Improve safety and achieve vision zero goals defined in section 286-75;
(7) Reduce user cost of transportation;
(8) Improve public health;
(9) Reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses to meet state climate and zero emissions clean economy goals defined in section 269-92 and zero emissions clean economy by 2045 as defined in section 225P-5;
(10) Reduce urban temperatures by incorporating tree canopy and foliage over hardened surfaces; and
(11) Beautify public infrastructure.
§264- Ground transportation modernization commission. (a) There is established within the department of transportation for administrative purposes only, a ground transportation modernization commission consisting of members who shall be appointed as follows:
(1) The administrator of the office of energy;
(2) The director of the department of health or designee;
(3) A state sustainability coordinator;
(4) The chair of the senate committee with jurisdiction over transportation;
(5) The chair of the house committee with jurisdiction over transportation;
(6) The director of the department of education or designee;
(7) The director of state charter schools or designee;
(8) The director of state libraries or designee;
(9) The chair of the University of Hawaii's department of urban and regional planning or designee;
(10) A representative of the state climate commission or designee;
(11) A representative of a bicycle advocacy organization;
(l2) A representative of a pedestrian advocacy organization;
(13) A representative of public health advocacy organization; and
(14) A mayor of each county or designee.
The commission members shall annually elect one of the members to serve as chairperson of the commission. The commission members may approve other members it finds appropriate.
(b) The ground transportation modernization commission shall:
(1) Provide independent assistance and oversight to the department to help modernize ground transportation;
(2) Establish future mode share targets and benchmarks for 2030, 2040, and 2050, that align and achieve the transportation, safety, economic, equitable, public health, and climate goals of the state of Hawaii; and
(3) Review annual progress toward these goals and provide recommendations and guidance to the department and legislature in assessing, meeting, and achieving the goals of this measure.
(c) The commission shall meet no less than quarterly and shall provide an annual report to the legislature on January 1st of each year beginning in 2022. The annual report shall include a full and complete statement with any findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation that the commission deems necessary or desirable.
§264- Highways, ground transportation, generally. The department shall provide for a safe, accessible, equitable, fully multimodal, and sustainable system of ground connections that ensures the accessibility of people and goods, improves economic vitality, public health, livability, and quality of life."
SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
Ground Transportation; Modernize; Infrastructure; Motor Vehicle; Bicycle; Pedestrian; Ground Transportation Modernization Commission
Modernizes Hawaii's ground transportation infrastructure by providing metrics, considerations, and assistance to the department of transportation in creating motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities. Establishes a ground transportation modernization commission within the department of transportation.
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.