Yukimura proposes new solution to traffic mess

Kaua’i County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura yesterday proposed a resolution creating an “integrated” county transportation plan she hopes will significantly reduce traffic congestion on Kaua’i.

The proposed measure, unveiled during a council meeting at the historic County Building, requests that Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s administration work with the state Department of Transportation to develop a study and a plan on Kaua’i’s traffic congestion.

Both entities would work with the County Bikeways Committee, the county bus transportation manager and interested citizens.

The plan also calls for the coordination of private vehicular traffic, public transportation, bikeways and pedestrian activities.

Implementation of the system would help preserve Kaua’i’s rural character, complement Kaua’i’s visitor industry and support economic development, Yukimura said of the plan set forth in her resolution.

It was anticipated that the council would refer the proposal to its planning committee for further review. A resolution expresses intent, but carries no legal weight.

In light of daily traffic congestion, residents want to “see real effective solutions,” Yukimura said in promoting acceptance of the plan.

Traffic congestion occurs daily in Kapa’a and Wailua and along parts of Kaumuali’i Highway from Koloa to Lihu’e, and may spread to other parts of the island, Yukimura said.

Building roads is not the only way to lick traffic congestion, she said. “To just look at roads alone doesn’t seem like it is going to solve our problems,” she said.

Her proposed plan would seem to offer a better solution, Yukimura said, adding the proposal is a “logical follow-up” to the county’s General Plan Update, passed in November 2000. The plan guides development on the island.

The proposed resolution supporting the plan noted that:

– The Kaua’i Long Range Land Transportation Plan of 1997 and the general plan update confirm many of Kaua’i’s major roads now operate at capacity.

– Approved development in west and east Kaua’i is likely to contribute to traffic woes.

– The creation of multi-lane highways to ease congestion, parking facilities that will be built and urban sprawl will end Kaua’i’s urban character.

– Kaua’i’s’ aging population will require more transportation programs.

– A study that integrates pedestrian traffic, public transportation, use of bicycles and vehicular travel will be a “more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sound way to address our traffic concerns.”

– Implementation of the plan could mean that fewer parents will have to drive their children to designations and events as much.

– A viable bus system that more people will use will take more vehicles off the road, resulting in better “transport of people and goods.”

Council vice chairman Jimmy Tokioka said “everybody wants traffic relief,” but noted that before he approves Yukimura’s measure, it must have consensus of the other council members and other parties who will be asked to implement the plan, if approved.

Cost also is an issue, Tokioka said.

While applauding Yukimura for her efforts, Kapa’a resident Glenn Mickens said the plan sounds good but is not practical.

“A plan using public transportation, bikeways and pedestrian activities to solve our traffic problems is only a dream, maybe a good dream, but a dream nonetheless,” Mickens said.

A main obstacle to the plan is that residents “are weaned on their vehicles” and there exists no law to force them to stop using their vehicles and start using public transportation, Mickens said.

Councilman Jay Furfaro said that federal and state governments contribute less than 23 percent of the funds for the county’s transportation system, and need to kick in more.

“So we have to have a sound vision that ties into the vision for the general plan, the independent visions for each community and then the integrated transportation plan if we hope to succeed in getting more money to fund it,” Furfaro said.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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