They’re clogged, dangerous and getting worse
Readers of The Garden Island
and its Web site, KauaiWorld.com, sound off on traffic and road problems. See
By DENNIS WILKEN
TGI Staff Writer
have lost their lives this summer on the island’s crowded roads. Three of the
four traffic crash victims were teenagers.
Traffic safety is a local law
enforcement priority. The Kaua`i Police Department maintains DUI checkpoints,
and officers have a seatbelt-citation quota. But they can’t reduce the number
of cars on the roads.
Although major road improvements and road
construction falls under the purview of the state of Hawai`i, many current and
would-be County Council members, while disavowing responsibility, agree that
something must be done about crowded, dangerous roads.
Money is, of course,
“Just to build a bypass in Kapa`a would cost $300 million. A lot
of this is not under my control, though,” said Councilman Bryan
“The infrastructure we have in place barely takes care of our
population,” said Joe Prigge a candidate for council said.
“Traffic is a
big problem, but there’s not a lot I can do to deal with that. It’s state and
federal money that’s required,” Councilman Gary Hooser said.
suggested one way to ease congestion is to quit putting more cars on the
“At some point you have to say no to rezoning requests. About a year
ago there was a project proposing 700 new units in Poi`pu. You see the roads.
Where are we going to put 500 more cars?” Hooser asked.
His was the
council’s only no vote, though.
Readers of The Garden Island evidently
agree with Hooser. The response to an on-line readers’ survey via the
newspaper’s Web site (KauaiWorld.com) about dangerous intersections received
“Without hesitation, the most dangerous intersection on
Kaua`i is in Lawai, where traffic from Koloa Road connects to the (Kukio)
highway,” Steve Hunt stated.
Hunt said limited visibility and the high
speeds of the oncoming traffic make it “nearly impossible” to turn onto the
highway from Koloa.
Hunt also had a candidate for the “most congested”
traffic spot: Everybody’s least favorite place to get stuck, between Wailua and
Jon Schlegel suggested some adjustments that wouldn’t require a
huge cash expenditure.
“The stop signs are not timed properly. Also,
(during) the eight years that the contra flow has been working, another lane
could have been paved or built. Or another bypass route built,” Schlegel
Schlegel also suggested roundabouts (circular intersections),
cloverleafs and a bus system serving Lihu’e Airport.
More than one survey
respondent mentioned the crowded road from Makua to Ke’e, made more dangerous
by tourists parking on the sides of the roads and gawking, forcing
through-drivers into the opposite lanes. It’s just a matter of time before
there’s a head-on, readers agreed.
Paulette Edmonston, a former Kaua`i
resident whose husband is a traffic and project development manager for the
city of Newport Beach, Calif., offered criticism and help.
“As a former
resident and annual visitor to Kaua`i, I nominate the traffic (congestion) at
the intersection of Kukui Grove and the main highway. The most dangerous
intersection is the Eleele Shopping Center intersection. This intersection was
designed and striped (more than) 40 years ago, while I was still living on the
island,” she stated.
Edmonston said her husband, whose business is traffic,
believes there are much better ways to design intersections that the old Kaua`i
John and Bo Oliver lamented the intersection at Kuhio Highway and the
Kapa`a Bypass Road (the road where two teenagers were killed in
“Trying to make a right turn onto Kuhio Highway after returning from
the Farmer’s Market to access the Coconut Marketplace is guaranteed to shorten
one’s lifespan by several years, even if you do make the turn,” the Olivers
Several Kaua`i residents talked a little trash about tourists
“sightseeing from behind the wheel,” as one local put it.
Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) and