Increasing mobility, safety

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series on the Complete Streets Program on Kauai. Today’s article focuses on Hanapepe.

HANAPEPE — Debra Wennett says she’s all for safer walkways and bikeways in Hanapepe Town, but she hopes county alterations won’t change the town’s rural identity.

“I could see a nicer walkway — that would draw more people — but don’t change it too much. That’s the charm,” said Wennett, a manager at Puuwai Gallery in Hanapepe Town. “It’s going to end up like Paia and Maui and all that charm is going to get lost in the cracks.”

Lee Steinmetz, Kauai County multimodal transportation planner, said alterations to Hanapepe Road, the Poipu-Koloa area and Kawaihau area are part of the Complete Streets Program that aims to improve pedestrian safety, relieve congestion and boost economic development.

Construction schedule for the three projects is slated for sometime between 2018 and 2020, Steinmetz said.

Part of the State Transportation Improvement Program, 80 percent of the projects will be federally funded while 20 percent will be funded locally.

“Final funding is subject to federal funding availability and funding of local match through county annual budget process,” Steinmetz said. “Local match has been allocated for planning/engineering but not for construction.”

Conceptual cost estimates are $3 million for Hanapepe, $3 million for Kawaihau and $7.5 million for phase one of the Poipu-Koloa area, Steinmetz said.

“Because we have federal funding on these projects, we have to be compliant with the National Environmental Preservation Act and the National Historic Preservation Act in addition to state requirements,” he said. “What we’re working is the detail-design engineering based on those concepts of those community designs. We have to get environmental clearances in order to move forward with construction.”

Steinmetz said the improvements are going to be different depending on the needs of the community.

“We’re not prioritizing by project, but our highest priority is safety,” he said.

On Sept. 15, 2010, the Kauai County Council adopted Resolution No. 2010-48, establishing a Complete Streets Policy for the island.

As part of the policy, pedestrian ways should be a 10-feet minimum width and shall be required at intervals of every 450 feet. Additionally, the streets should be able to accommodate multi-modal circulation for bicycles, public transportation, vehicles and pedestrians.

In 2009, State Act 54 was passed, requiring the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation and the county transportation departments to adopt a Complete Streets policy that reasonably accommodates convenient access and mobility for all users of the public highways.

For Hanapepe Road, alterations include:

w narrowed travel lanes

w improved pedestrian crossings

w a flush sidewalk

w on-street parking will be maintained and off-street parking increased

w improved roadway drainage.

“With the Friday night festival and art walk, you have a few hundred people who come through town,” said Ed Justus, owner of The Bookstore. “Having a delineated walking path is a sensible solution. It’s a lot cheaper to just making a mark on the road than it is building a whole concrete sidewalk.”

Justus added: “Historically, (Hanapepe) hasn’t had necessarily a pedestrian walkway for almost a century or longer. During the day, I never see (pedestrian safety) as an issue.”

As a commercial district, Steinmetz said alterations would improve safety of motorists, pedestrians, transit users and bicyclists as well as help to boost economic development.

Wennett hopes the improvements aren’t dramatic.

“I think it’s important not to overbuild, not to try to over-accommodate,” she said. “You can make it better, but keep the old and try to wind the new with the old and not get rid of it so fast.”

Ultimately, Justus said, the alterations would protect the county’s liability if someone is injured in Hanapepe.

“Will it make an economic benefit? Maybe,” he said. “Will it be safer? Sure. Anything that helps to mark where the pedestrians can walk around is great.”

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