Traffic woes need strong leadership

Two recent letters in TGI, “History shows officials have failed to act on traffic troubles” by Jeff Demma and “Time for action on Kauai traffic” by Steve McMacken were really outstanding.

And it is probably safe to assume that the in-depth research that these two gentlemen did for their letters was an echo of thousands of other vehicle users on Kauai, local and visitors.

Mr. McMacken so clearly illuminates our traffic problem when he asks, “So how are our civic leaders addressing our little problem (probably using the word “little” facetiously)? Why, they gave the green light to developers to build more resorts and housing developments, of course. Infra-structure is left for others to worry about. It’s the proverbial ‘stick your head in the sand’ approach which has been going on for years — effectively since Iniki — and it’s slowly draining the life out of our Island.” So factually well put.

This horrendous traffic problem that affects every commuting person on Kauai — including those we elected to solve our problems — should have been addressed years ago but where is our leadership — the county manager we do not have? And yes, since most of the alternate roads we need to alleviate traffic are state controlled, we need advocacy by the county for the state to accelerate the obtaining of requisite financing and the building of necessary arterial roads.

We must put a moratorium on all mass building until infrastructure is first put in place to address it. We cannot continue to use the “ready, fire, aim” system of operating our government that continually proves to be disastrous.

We need to adopt laws that require adequacy of infrastructure as a condition precedent for all major construction.

Plus we desperately need a Planning Commission that is dedicated to fulfilling these laws and not just rubber stamping every project that comes before them.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura offers as a “solution” to the traffic problem some type of intermodal transportation system for Kauai — more buses, more bikes and more walking — all a dream with no reality.

Her proposal to pay for this “dream” is to tax all citizens $8 million with a 1/2 percent excise tax — just what we need, more taxes!

If these bikes, buses and walkers are her solution to our traffic problem, then why isn’t she leading by example by getting rid of her car and using them?

People will not abandon their vehicles as a means of transportation — a proven fact. That multi-billion-dollar 20-mile rapid transit rail system proposed on Oahu will not lessen vehicles used either, as was proven in Portland, Oregon.

From an editorial in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser by Cliff Slater, here are the facts:

“Portland, the poster city for light rail, had an increase of 20,000 transit commuters during the census period 1990-2000 which everyone has applauded as a spectacular performance.”

However, it also had an increase of $175,000 in number of car-driving commuters. Since Portland had done little or nothing about increasing road space (having spent the money on light rail) the result was one of the worst in traffic congestion in the nation. And yet its public officials still gloat over the ridership increase.”

Obviously this light rail system is not the answer to alleviating traffic, and, is certainly not one to even think about on Kauai.

We need more cane haul roads to be paved to give us alternative roads to traverse our Island. The Kapaa bypass was a cane haul road; we paved and had it in use in nine months and it has been a huge success.

Or do as Billy Fernandez envisioned and suggested over 40 years ago and pave the Power Line Road from Puhi to Princeville with feeder roads going to Kapaa, Anahola and Kilauea — a great idea that should have be done at that time.

We need not only visionaries but people who will take action on projects that need doing but where are they?

We hire consultants at a cost of thousands of dollars to the people but what are we getting for their advice — nothing.

Traffic will kill the goose that lays the golden egg on Kauai — tourism. Tourists will know that they can sit in traffic in LA, Chicago or New York, so why come to Kauai to do the same thing?

The need for a county manager who would facilitate achieving these goals is ever present.

Where are the leaders on this island who will be smart enough to change our system to a county manager type and at least try and move us out of this “heads in the sand” system we now have?

•••

Glenn Mickens is a resident of Kapaa.

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