Your Government: County reigning in speeding

Responding to public fears about speeding on county roads, the Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday flushed out strategies to curb racing in Puhi in East Kaua‘i and took action to clamp down on violators in Hanalei on the North Shore.

At a meeting at the historic County Building, the council approved a resolution to conduct a traffic-calming pilot study, install four additional speed tables on the road, reduce the speed limit on Weke Road in Hanalei from 25 mph to 20 mph and install three stop signs at the intersection of Weke and Aku roads.

Residents, frustrated by what they said was slow government action, complained that the speeding has terrorized their community for four years. They are elated, however, now that something’s finally being done.

Government officials said they wanted to assess the situation thoroughly before taking action.

“We got what we wanted,” Richard Parks, a Weke Road resident who has led the charge for action by the council, said after the meeting.

Reckless speeding on Weke Road over the last four years has led to fences being knocked down, pedestrians being forced off the road and fights between drivers and property owners, Parks said. Some motorists have been clocked at 70 miles an hour.

Parks said the task force designated to control speeding should include at least one affected homeowner.

“They can make a positive contribution through their suggestions,” Parks said after the meeting. “The live there and know the problem.”

The task force is likely to also include government officials and Kaua‘i Police Department officials.

The council’s action opens the way for four more speed tables to be installed by one currently on the road by the Hanalei Pavilion.

The speed tables are about 22 feet wide and 14 feet in depth, and rise about three inches from the ground.

The county has chosen not to install the tables due to liability concerns and worry that the “traffic-calming devices” will slow up the response time of emergency vehicles.

But Parks, basing his opinion on national experts on traffic-calming strategies, said the delays would be minimal. He said later that county officials agree with that assessment.

“The speed tables will help in some positive fashion,” Parks said.

While residents have praised the Kaua‘i Police Department for cracking down on speeding on Weke Road, they said they realize KPD has a manpower shortage and officers cannot respond to every speeding call on the road.

Parks thanked KPD, the council and the Kaua‘i County Public Works Department, which conducted surveys, worked with Weke property owners and will eventually install the four remaining speed tables.

“For the 52 property owners (along Weke Road) I want to thank you guys,” Parks said.

Council Chairman Kaipo Asing said strategies used to curb speeding on Weke Road could be used to attack nighttime speeding on the Puhi Bypass Road.

Asing said establishing another task force to address speeding on that road might help. If that body is formed, the Kaua‘i County Public Works Department should also sit on it because “we have the engineers,” County Engineer Donald Fujimoto said.

Fujimoto said while speed tables can be used on small county roads, they cannot be used on main roads like the Puhi Bypass Road.

Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, a former Kaua‘i County prosecutor, said the county has used only $30,000 of $300,000 from a government forfeiture fund for crime-fighting, and suggested some of those funds be used to halt reckless speeding.

• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and lchang@ kauaipubco.com.

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