Wednesday, March 16, 2011


YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE: If drivers on county roads have had an easy time of it for the past few years with seemingly no delays there's a reason for it.

Because, as revealed at a couple of recent council meetings, the county has failed to do any of it's regular road repaving for at least the past three financial three years, possibly longer.

That's what new County Engineer Larry Dill reluctantly admitted to the council last Wednesday after councilmembers finally examined the budget and found that the monies they appropriated over the last two-plus budget years went unspent, including a "extra" almost two million dollars so that we could "catch up" on the routine maintenance that extends the life of roads.

It all started at the February 23 council meeting with an agenda item asking Department of Public Works (DPW) to discuss road resurfacing.

Our regular readers might remember that, as we wrote in August of 2009, something has been fishy with the contracts for road resurfacing for many years. But at least it was getting done.

According to Council Chair Jay Furfaro there is still $7.9 million sitting there that was supposed to be used for resurfacing to keep county owned roads- as opposed to the state roads- from deteriorating to the point where it would cost many times that amount to fix them.

But the preventive maintenance hasn't been performed in years although no one will quite admit to why.

Dill claims he's too "new" to be able to say what happened after he replaced former County Engineer Donald Fujimoto earlier this year. And long time DPW engineer Ed Renaud, who is now in charge of road resurfacing, was his ever-evasive self, repeating that he "can't" or "won't" answer the council's questions regarding why.

All the council could get out of Dill and Renaud is that a new era is at hand- again- and that all problems will be solved through the purchase of an expensive piece of software called "Micropaver" which will track what roads have been resurfaced and when and what condition all the county's 300 some odd miles of roads are in.

Always quite the character, Renaud claimed he was also "new" although he was apparently able to answer many questions in excruciating detail about how county crews have been doing the actual road resurfacing over the years in conjunction with the contract awardees.

Of course the council wasn't interested in going back and finding out why we were being short changed on the road resurfacing contracts for many years as council watchdog Glenn Mickens has pointed out for the last 15-odd years.

As we wrote in 2009 in describing his research:

To try to be brief, a few years back- make that more than a decade ago- council “nitpicker” Glen Mickens began to notice that, as he took his daily walks pieces of broken off pavement sat by the side of the road which upon measurement were apparently thinner than the standard and required 1 ½ inches thick.

He made it his quest- one that, despite detailed presentation to the council no one so far seems to want to hear- to inform the council about how not only is the county paying for 1 ½ inch paving and not getting it but that, for some reason no one can adequately explain, on Kaua`i the standard of 90 sq. ft. of asphalt per ton is used while the national standard is 120 sq. ft. per ton to get that 1 ½”.

That means that, if anything, we should be getting roads that are 33% thicker than 1 ½” or 2” thick.

The question is, where is the extra asphalt going- a question the Public Works Department has been unable to answer.

You can also read Mickens' more detailed account contained in the same post.

Supposedly a contract for a good portion of the money available- $5.4 million- has gone out to bid and will be awarded by the summer according to Dill and Renaud. But as far as accountability for the past we'll have to wait and see what County Auditor Ernie Pasion comes up with in his performance audit of the road resurfacing program that's due later this year.

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