News | 2022 California-Hawai'i Transportation Symposium: The Significance of Synergy 

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by Georgie Suico & Nha (Thi) Vuong

The California (CA)- Hawai’i (HI) Transportation Symposium was held virtually on March 23rd, in conjunction with the 2022 Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center (PSR UTC) Congress: Lessons Learned in Vulnerability, Resilience, and Recovery. The symposium consisted of insightful presentations about the themes of infrastructure resiliency and sustainable mobility. Expert practitioners from both states engaged in a critical discussion to share knowledge via panels on freight partnerships, climate change, tourism, and transit technology.  


Dara Wheeler opened the symposium with a welcome from the California Department of Transportation and introduced Ed Sniffen of the Hawai’i State Department of Transportation, who provided an overview of Hawaii’s multimodal transportation system and the significance of collaborative partnerships. “For us, we make sure we understand that partnership is everything, we cannot do anything without it,” said Sniffen. He went on to share many projects that were made possible by making use of synergetic efforts, from maintaining a state of resiliency and sustainability while still maximizing resources, to making progress on social goals such as building affordable housing and connecting communities. The presentations then took place in two blocks, separated into smaller sessions.  


First, building on two thematic concepts in goods movement and infrastructure, participants engaged in a Q and A with speakers in two concurrent sessions. The first session focused on Freight Partnerships for Economic Vitality, featuring presentations on the Hawai’i Freight System (Ku'uhaku Park, Matson Navigation), Disaster Relief Supply Chains (Suwan Shen, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa), LA Waterfront Redevelopment (Sue Lai, Port of Los Angeles), and Fresh Cut Flowers (Camron King, Certified American Growers). The second session featured Lake Tahoe Tourism (Devin Middlebrook, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency), the California State Parks Systems (Alexandra Stehl, California State Parks), and Hawai’i Destination Action Plans (John De Fries, Hawai’i Tourism Authority).  


The second block highlighted a new set of topics. The first session anchored the discussion in Emerging Transit Issues and Technology, spotlighting the California Integrated Travel Project), (Lilly Shoup, California Department of Transportation), Microtransit (James Drake, Sacramento Regional Transit District), Cybersecurity (Gen Tamura, Protective Security Advisor, and Giovanni Williams, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), and Zero Emission Public Transit Vehicle Planning in Honolulu (Roger Morton, City and County of Honolulu). The second session addressed Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness, particularly System Resilience in Climate Change Events. It featured Lisa Worthington (California Department of Transportation), Frances Edwards (San José State University), Fraser Shilling (University of California, Davis), and Karl Kim (University of Hawai’i at Manoa).  


A panel discussion featuring Caltrans leadership led the closing plenary. Participants included Jeanie Ward-Waller (Deputy Director of Planning and Modal Programs); Lori Pepper (Deputy Secretary for Innovative Mobility Solutions), Marlon Flournoy (Division Chief of Transportation Planning), and Amar Cid (Race and Equity Program Manager). 


Despite continuing pandemic-related obstacles, the 2022 PSR Congress initiated powerful conversations about some of the most pressing issues and innovative research shaping both California and Hawai’i. As tourism, climate change, technological advancement, and other numerous factors impact the emerging transit and freight environment, these dialogues will become significant in guiding policy, planning, and coordination.   

To view recordings from the event, click here.