Sunday, May 22, 2022 |
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Speed tables curb racing on Weke Road
by Nathan Eagle – THE GARDEN ISLAND
HANALEI — A pilot program to purge dangerous driving on Weke Road should be made permanent, North Shore residents and county officials said last week.
Five speed tables and a three-way stop have reduced overall speeding and put an end to drivers racing at 70 mph on the narrow half-mile street, Hanalei resident Richard Parks told the County Council during its Dec. 12 meeting at the Historic County Building.
The “traffic calming devices” have solved a problem that community members said threatened their children’s lives, but the county needs an ordinance to make the test project a lasting fix, County Engineer Donald Fujimoto said.
The Law currently only allows residents to petition for speed bumps on “feeder roads,” Councilman Tim Bynum said.
Weke Road rims the southeast side of Hanalei Bay, running parallel to county parks and popular beaches. With posted 20 mph speed limit signs, it is a “collector road” designed as an evacuation route.
A county study shows emergency response time increased from 42 to 135 seconds after the speed tables were installed more than a year ago, but the county attorney’s office said it should not be a liability concern because the measure is aimed at making the area safer for citizens.
The Public Works Department prefers that the ordinance permit traffic calming devices on collector roads on a case-by-case basis, county Engineering Chief Wally Kobo said.
Councilman Jay Furfaro said the council is waiting for the administration to propose such legislation.
Council Chair Bill “Kaipo” Asing said he remains concerned about police not playing a “major role” in the solution.
Law enforcement officers evidently could not solve the problem, he said, and asked if traffic calming devices would be the answer for all island speeding problems.
The county would be remiss to not pursue speed tables in other troubled neighborhoods, Parks said, that could “save a lot of kids physical harm or death.”
An unofficial survey that includes 23 testimonies from Hanalei residents shows broad community support for the traffic calming devices, he added.
The rubber speed tables last 10 to 15 years and are easy to remove to repave the road or do other work, county officials said.
It’s a “substantial” up front cost, Bynum said, but they effectively reduce speeding “24/7.”
The councilman said law enforcement should still be part of the solution.
The Weke Road project started five years ago, Parks said, when “I still had hair.”
He said he spent the first couple years trying to address the problem through Ka Leo O Kaua‘i, an initiative of Mayor Bryan Baptiste, which intended to build and strengthen communities.
After that proved fruitless and police efforts failed to offer lasting help, Parks said, he approached the council.
The solution arrived through the aid of Fujimoto, Kobo and county clerk Peter Nakamura, who were “sincerely nice people attempting to help with a serious problem,” he said.
The speed tables — about 22 feet wide and 14 feet in depth — feature a gradual rise to a surface elevated roughly three inches from the ground.
“It’s not just the shock of going over a bump once,” Furfaro said.
The three-way stop at the intersection of Weke and Aku roads, he added, has also proven “very successful.”
The council’s Public Works Committee approved the traffic calming pilot study in May 2006 after more than 50 property owners signed a petition for improved speed controls.
The neighbors at that time said cars racing down Weke Road had terrorized the community for four years — knocking down fencing and intimidating pedestrians.
• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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