Roads raise headaches and fear

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

page 2-A.

By DENNIS WILKEN

TGI Staff Writer

LIHU’E—Four Kauaians

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,

a problem.

“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

Baptiste.

“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.

Hooser

suggested one way to ease congestion is to quit putting more cars on the

road.

“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

heavy response.

“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

Kapa`a.

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

said.

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

way.

John and Bo Oliver lamented the intersection at Kuhio Highway and the

Kapa`a Bypass Road (the road where two teenagers were killed in

June).

“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

said.

Several Kaua`i residents talked a little trash about tourists

“sightseeing from behind the wheel,” as one local put it.

Staff writer

Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) and

dwilken@pulitzer.net

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