Developer pitches bypass connection

KAPAA – If plans for a proposed subdivision behind the middle school on Olohena Road move forward, it could involve building a new connection to the Kapaa Bypass.

Other infrastructure changes could be needed, too, to accommodate the increased traffic that the 769-unit HoKua Place project could bring with it.

“The thing that is hugely problematic in Kapaa is traffic,” project principal Greg Allen said. “We know that we need to put in the roads before we put in houses.”

Allen said the traffic issue was anticipated, and building an alternative route would help alleviate congestion because residents would have an option to avoid the roundabout where the Kapaa Bypass connects to Olohena Road. The proposed HoKua Place plans call for a new road that would flow from the bypass, through the proposed subdivision, and then connect to Olohena Road inland from the middle school.

Adding a connection to that part of the bypass could add to traffic backups at the south end, where it meets Kuhio Highway, but Allen noted the Department of Transportation is already planning to expand Kuhio Highway to four lanes in that area.

The additional fourth lane on Kuhio Highway would run south from the bypass to Kuamoo Road, making it easier for cars leaving the bypass to merge with the highway. That project is slated for summer 2016.

The HoKua Place plans call for 86 single-family lots and 57 townhouse units to be built on 97 acres of land northwest of the traffic circle on Olohena road. The remainder of the 163-acre parcel will remain rural and used for well and water systems. The land has a solar array.

“We have a 25 percent shortage of housing in Kauai right now. It’s expensive because they aren’t enough houses,” Allen said. “But if we have more houses, if we have more townhouses, that gives options.”

Wailua resident Angela Hoover is a renter with two kids, who is saving for a down payment on a mortgage and likes the idea of more housing. But she is concerned about the potential for increased traffic problems.

“I have mixed feelings,” Hoover said. “This plan presents an opportunity to find something affordable, close to town. But traffic is a huge issue.”

According to County of Kauai officials, the proposed HoKua Place subdivision is in an area designated as an urban center in the county’s 2000 General Plan, meaning it has been recognized as a good area to construct new homes.

But before that can happen, the state Land Use Commission must decide whether to approve an entitlement change that will allow agricultural land to be reclassified for urban use.

As part of that decision- making process, the public has a 45-day window to comment on HoKua Place’s draft Environmental Impact Statement, which is available on the state of Hawaii’s Office of Environmental Quality Control’s website. A PDF of the impact statement can also be downloaded from www.hokuaplace.com. Comments will be accepted until June 22.

Among other changes, Allen said land will be set aside so the trident intersection of Olohena, Kaapuni, and Kaehulua roads can be reconfigured. Land will also be set aside for a new public bus stop and bus stop parking northwest of the middle school.

A new multi-modal pedestrian and bike path would be built to link the subdivision to Kapaa Town. That path will include an overpass so people can safely cross the bypass.

A section of the Kapaa bypass owned by the Hokua Place landowners will be donated so the entire road is publicly owned.

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