NUKOLI’I – When the time came to plan improvements to an intersection near Kapaa New Park, several considerations came into play, according to state engineers.
First, moving Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative power poles would have cost millions of dollars, a cost higher than the planned improvements, said Steve Kyono, Kaua’i district engineer for the state Department of Transportation Highways Division.
So, that idea was scratched.
Taking a portion of the county’s Kapaa New Park would have triggered the need for an environmental assessment, and possibly a more extensive environmental impact statement, so that plan was also scrubbed.
Enter a plan for the island’s first public traffic circle, known as a “roundabout” or “rotary,” which is planned at the busy Kapa’a intersection of the Waipouli bypass road, Olohena Road, Kukui Street, and Malu Road, just mauka of Kapaa New Park.
The planned improvements are in conjunction with a plan to extend the bypass road along an existing but abandoned cane-haul road mauka of Kapaa New Park, to link up with Kuhio Highway near the highway’s intersections with Hau’a’ala and Kawaihau roads.
The newest section of the bypass road, from the highway north of downtown Kapa’a to the intersection behind Kapaa New Park, will be for one-way traffic, southbound, or for motorists heading toward Lihu’e from Kapa’a.
Traffic circles are “very efficient” from an engineering perspective, Kyono said to around 40 people at the Kapaa Business Association meeting at the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort here Tuesday.
Traffic circles work well in Tahiti, said County Councilmember Jay Furfaro, who spent some time in those islands managing a hotel. He is also general manager of the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort.
Gov. Linda Lingle is receptive to providing funding for extending the bypass, and the new director of the state Department of Transportation is receptive to looking at ways to speed up the needed improvements, said Mayor Bryan Baptiste.
There is one other traffic circle on the island, just inside the main entrance to Princeville, which is private property.
Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:email@example.com or 245-3681 (ext. 224).