Waikomo Road project scrapped

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council unanimously voted to kill a resolution that proposed changes to Waikomo Road Wednesday.

“The administration and council both agreed last week at committee that this plan should be scrapped for now,” said Councilman Ross Kagawa. “The administration wants to work on this project in the future and they said they will work with the community and reach a happy medium.”

The proposed changes included establishing crosswalks, marked pedestrian lanes and a one-way street on Waikomo Road, which is in Koloa. Lyle Tabata, acting county engineer, cited the safety of children walking to Koloa Elementary school and the library as a need for the change.

The proposed project was part of the Safe Routes to School.

But, after receiving input from the public, which included a petition against the changes complete with 260 signatures, the county decided to go back to the drawing board, Kagawa said.

Tina Sakamoto, who lives in Koloa, said the administration failed to get adequate community involvement in the project.

“It is the county administration’s responsibility to listen to and willingly explore other options and issues brought forward by impacted community members in an open dialogue environment,” she said.

That leads to public participation, Sakamoto said.

While county representatives hosted community meetings on the project, it didn’t welcome input from the community, she added.

About 95 percent of the attendees did not support the changes, Sakamoto said.

“Public support is crucial for a community program to succeed,” she said.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said she appreciated that the administration recognized that the project wouldn’t benefit Koloa’s residents.

“I know Safe Routes to School is a sincere desire to enable our children to walk safely to school. So I’m hopeful that maybe the community can find an alternative trail or pathway that is off the road,” she said.

Moving forward, Councilman Mason Chock said he hopes the administration will seek community outreach sooner in the development stage of projects.

“I hope their ideas are listened to,” he said.

Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro agreed.

“When we go back to the community, we need to look at the big picture and look at the plans that are in place now,” he said.

Prioritization is key, he added.

“What are the important projects we need, and I think we’ll get more buy in,” he said. “Safe Routes to School may be a priority, but it may be further down the list. Having the list will hopefully let the community know what direction we’re moving in.”

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