Honolulu mayor promises action on homeless, roads


Associated Press

Posted on April 4, 2013 at 7:03 AM

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Wednesday he plans to restore bus service, push housing services for homeless people and spend $150 million per year over each of the next five years to improve city roads.

In his first State of the City address since winning election last year, Caldwell said he intends to go beyond addressing short-term problems.

He said he's dedicating $3.5 million to restore bus service cuts made in 2012 and plans to re-pave 300 lane miles of city roads each year over the next five years

Caldwell also reiterated his dedication to "Build Rail Better," his campaign motto that helped propel him to victory in an election that largely revolved around whether and how Honolulu should build a rail service.

Caldwell said the city rail project should have more transparency and community input, and both rail and bus services are critical for city transportation.

"It's not rail vs. bus," he said. "It's rail and bus."

Caldwell also said homelessness is a major issue, with the number of homeless people growing to 4,500. He said he wants to prioritize giving homeless people housing before addressing their other needs, such as drug rehabilitation or employment.

"We don't need another study," the mayor said. "We need to take action as soon as we can."

Caldwell also said he will sign a bill to make it more difficult to sleep in tents on city streets for significant chunks of time. The bill is currently being debated by the City Council.

Caldwell added that that improving the city's sewer system and parks are among his top priorities.

He has proposed $11.8 million to repair park facilities and wants to dedicate millions to restore Ala Moana Beach Park and Thomas Square.

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