Citizens petition against revitalization plan

LIHUE — Dozens of Lihue residents have signed a petition against a proposed project aimed at adding a bicycle boulevard on roadways near their residence.

Lorraine Shimauchi is among 57 people who signed a petition against the removal of a center dividing line and the addition of bike lanes on Malae and Puaole Streets. She argues the changes may cause more traffic in the area and may lead to future accidents.

“We’re thinking of safety; we have several blind spots (in the area),” Shimauchi said. “Residents in my neighborhood said they had near misses when they reversed out and almost hit a car.”

Shimauchi said Puaole and Malae streets are already used by drivers who avoid street lights near the area.

“We would have appreciated more if we had been included in the planning stage,” she said. “If you’re not going to make infrastructure improvements to the road because of no money, then don’t add any more traffic to it.”

Shimauchi started the petition with a group of residents after she attended two July public open houses on the project.

“We the undersigned want are streets to remain as is,” according to the petition.

The $291,000 portion of the $17 million project is part of the Lihue Town Core Mobility and Revitalization Project, which is supplemented by TIGER (Transportation Investment General Economic Recovery) grants.

The proposed portion of the project aims to construct a 2,200-foot bicycle boulevard between Hardy and Hoolako Streets.

County officials with the Planning Department declined to comment on the matter, as they’ll address the Kauai County Council on the concerns of the petitioners in a committee meeting that begins at 8:30 this morning at the Historic County Building.

Another petitioner, Kuniaki Shimauchi, in a comment to the Kauai Planning Department, suggested adding sidewalks to the plan to address a drainage problem where Puaole Street meets the junction of Hoolako Street.

“During rainy season (whenever heavy rain), the water flows onto Puaole street. It puddles on both sides of our street,” K. Shimauchi wrote. “My position is if no sidewalk, then no bicycle path use either.”

Lorraine Shimauchi added, “On a heavy, heavy downpour it flows onto the road. Puaole on that particular road stretch is a thoroughfare because we experience more than the average traffic.”

Lorraine Shimauchi contends only a handful of bicyclists use the area, and said that Puaole is used by younger residents to get to Vidinha Stadium.

“I can count on one hand how many people actually used bikes on that particular area,” she said. “The lighting is only on one side of the road. If bicyclists think it’s bicycle road friendly, the lighting is poor in the evening for bicycle riding.”

Shimauchi will be among those who will speak on the matter today at a Kauai County Council committee meeting.

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