DOT has a long-term fix for Hawaii’s roads

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Potholes, cracks, and constant construction on Hawaii’s major roadways may be a thing of a past.

The Department of Transportation has a solution that could double the life of their roads. It’s called stone matrix asphalt (SMA), a stronger and more flexible aggregate that could last up to 25 years.

The Pali repaving project adds a two-inch layer of SMA atop their standard asphalt in hopes of making the road smoother and more durable.

“Overall way better product that we’ve gotten for the public at a cost of about 1.6 to 2 times the cost of materials,” said DOT Deputy Director of Highways Ed Sniffen.

“On placement, 1.2 to 1.5 times so over the life of the project, when you look at a 7-10 year life versus 25 makes total sense.”

The DOT first experimented with the SMA pavement with a five-mile stretch of the Moanalua Freeway back in 2004. It has held up incredibly well through 15 years.

“That area is super smooth, doesn’t have any cracks in it, and we’ve not touched it or done anything on it for the last 15 years,” Sniffen said.

“So we know it works, something that can give us life.”

The DOT is now planning on expanding the use of SMA on different major arteries.

“We’re already looking toward the next corridors we can do it on. Nimitz is coming up next. We have our Nimitz reconstructioning and resurfacing very soon.”

Many drivers have raved about how smooth the ride is on the new Pali roadways, but Sniffin cautions that sometimes an easy ride can lead to a false sense of security.

“Any time when you look at safety, smoothness is difficult to say it’s going to improve or affect safety mainly because if things are smoother you don’t notice the speeds that you’re driving,” Sniffin said.

He hopes the Pali resurfacing project will be completed by Christmas Day.

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