Revitalizing Lihue

LIHUE — As much as some Kauai County Council members wish the efforts going into securing a grant would have gone elsewhere, they agree it will benefit the community.

“The grant is not for a traffic or road improvement projects, and as much as we’d like to see it move to other parts of the island, we can’t,” said Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro.

Councilman Ross Kagawa said he recognizes the hard work and effort the administration put into obtaining the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Grant.

“But I would have preferred if we could have gotten something to address the backlogged roads,” he said.

In October 2015, Kauai received a $13 million TIGER Grant to revitalize the Lihue Town Core.

Months later, the administration presented several projects, including road improvements to Rice, Hoolako Hoala and Eiwa streets, among others. Proposed improvements included the addition of pedestrian and bike lanes on Rice Street, a shared-use path from the Lihue Civic Center to the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Hoolako Street.

But recently, the administration drafted Resolution No. 2016-57, which proposed modifications to the projects, including:

  • Adding center two-way left turn lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets
  • Establishing left turn only lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets
  • Establishing marked pedestrian crosswalks across Rice, Puaole, Kalena, Hoala and Malama and Hoolako streets
  • Creating bicycle lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets
  • Adding bus stops on Rice Street.

The resolution also seeks to limit parking between Haleko Road and Hardy Street to two hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and adding twice as many parking spaces.

On Wednesday, the Public Works/Parks and Recreation Committee unanimously voted to recommend approval of the changes.

“I’m asking for a little trust in this, and I’d like to see it through,” said Councilman Mason Chock.

But Council Chairman Mel Rapozo, who isn’t part of the committee, raised concerns about the projects. He said the community should get a chance to voice its opinion.

“This is a big project, and people should get the opportunity to speak,” he said.

He also raised concerns about how the 2-hour parking limit would be enforced.

While Mike Dahilig, planning director, said it’d be up to police to monitor the cars, Rapozo said they already have enough responsibility.

“We cannot expect police to mark cars; we have to be realistic,” he said.

He also said the changes may not be agreeable to everyone, and they may avoid the area entirely.

“If we’re trying to stimulate the economy, we might actually be hurting it,” he said. “Don’t you think people will start bypassing Rice Street altogether?”

The next step for the resolution will be at full council.


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