Friday, October 15, 2010

Does Honolulu Want ‘Low-Height’ Underpasses?

Damage to a pedestrian overpass above the H-1 freeway when a military vehicle struck it on September 5, 2006.
Football players are quick to offer up this cliché: “You have to take what the opposition gives you.” That’s what we’re doing today with the latest from rail opponent Cliff Slater.

Mr. Slater has been pounding out anti-rail screeds for decades, and his latest was published just this morning at Civil Beat, the online subscription news service. CB’s been around only for six months, so it apparently feels a need to review rail project issues that were covered exhaustively years ago.

Here’s a quote from Mr. Slater’s last paragraph in today’s CB subject – his five best reasons for opposing the project. This graf amounts to 3.6 percent of the approximately 2,000 words he contributed, and we think they’re priceless:

“Traffic in Honolulu can be reduced significantly by constructing a few key low-height underpasses for highly congested intersections. These under-passes have a limited height, usually at least eight feet high (emphasis added) that allows for vanpools, automobiles, light to medium sized trucks, and vans to fit, but not taller vehicles. Lower height underpasses are much more compact and therefore easier and cheaper to construct in the limited space for existing intersections.”

The two “screen shots” in today’s post are courtesy of, a website that monitors a railroad trestle in Durham, NC with video cameras; the site posts raw video of what happens when too-tall trucks try to drive beneath it. Note that this overpass is nearly four feet higher than Mr. Slater's recommended clearance.

The photos speak volumes about Mr. Slater’s suggestion to build low-clearance underpasses in Honolulu, whose truck drivers presumably have zero experience with railroad trestles and low-height under-passes. If their truck seats were several feet above ground level, they'd risk death if they accidentally strayed into one of these chop-top drive-throughs.

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