City wants to spend millions to study traffic lights

What does the city plan to do with your money?

KHON2 is getting a better idea as the budget makes it way through the approval process.

Ala Moana Beach Park
Millions in taxpayer money requested for climate study

Yesterday, KHON2 told you about a bill to spend $2 million worth of taxpayer money on a climate change study.

But that’s not all.

Another study on traffic lights passed second reading and would cost $5.6 million.

KHON2 wanted to know why this study would be so expensive and how it would help.

It’s no secret Honolulu has some of the worst traffic jams in the country. But one of the solutions could be hidden here.

“There’s never been a fully, island-wide study of how to synchronize and optimize our traffic signals so you get this nice, green tunnel,” Honolulu City Councilmember Stanley Chang said.

Chang is requesting $5.6 million dollars from the budget to figure out how to use traffic signals in the best way possible.

That amount includes up to $700,000 for every region that is studied.

But KHON2 wanted to know how timing traffic signals could help.

Chang says synchronizing signals in other cities, has decreased traffic by up to 30 percent. KHON2 also wanted to know why it costs so much, for a study.

“The study is over $5.5 million. Do you think that’s kind of high for a study?” KHON2 asked.

“Well, we’re working on figures that were provided to us by the administration. There’s been regional studies by neighborhood over the years, but there’s never been an island-wide study,” Chang said.

At least one expert believes the city shouldn’t have to spend that amount on this effort.

“We may want to do this in increments of 100 traffic lights per year and cut the amount to about $1 million a year and do a lot of the work in house and save even more money,” said Panos Prevedouros, civil engineering professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Prevedouros also says the study doesn’t have to be island-wide and should focus on highly congested roads such as this one, King Street.

Prevedouros agrees the city should look into this traffic study, but hopes they don’t forget what to do after.

“Is to immediately implement the optimization settings, otherwise it’s just numbers on paper and they don’t do any real world benefit for the traveling public,” he said.

The budget request for this traffic study passed second reading and is up for final reading in June.

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