HILO, Hawai‘i – Reducing vehicle miles traveled and creating walkable, bike-able communities were among the ideas shared at the Sustainable Transportation Forum held February 15 in Hilo.
For the first time, the forum was held on Hawai‘i Island. It was hosted by Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (Dist. 4 - Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona), Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy. In attendance were fellow community leaders, County councilmembers and stakeholders of various transportation sectors from Hawai‘i Island as well as Maui and O’ahu.
Senator Inouye lead the forum by discussing the purpose of the new Sustainable Transportation Forum and its efforts to help realize Hawai‘i’s 2045 clean energy goals. Jade Butay, Interim Director for the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) provided updates on transportation projects in Hilo and across Hawai‘i Island. He also discussed details on Hawai‘i’s use of the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAPS) which provides federal funds to transportation improvement projects.
Special guest presenter for the forum was Beth Osborne, Vice President for Technical Assistance in Washington, D.C. In her previous roles, Osborne was with the U.S. Department of Transportation, where she served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for transportation Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy. Before joining DOT, Osborne worked on Capitol Hill for Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Representative Ron Klink (D-PA) and Representative Brian Baird (D-WA).
Osborne provided insights on the state of transportation for the country, Hawai’i and particularly Hawai‘i Island. Beth knowledgeably identified land use and city planning as the most productive route to sustainable transportation in Hawai’i and the reduction of fossil fuel usage. Her primary focus was on reducing vehicle miles traveled by developing housing with nearby retail, schools, and parks. Osborne highlighted the concept of planning communities with the purpose to be safe, accessible and transit-friendly by walking and biking.
Recognizing the need to continue a statewide discussion about sustainability and achieving Hawai‘i’s energy goals, Senator Inouye announced future plans for Osborne to return for another Sustainable Transportation Forum in Kona, Hawai’i.