Have you driven through the Wailua-Kapaa corridor lately? Or even not lately? Perhaps the last decade?
Chances are pretty good you ended up stuck in traffic, whether you stayed on Kuhio Highway or tried the bypass, which is the route most locals take to avoid the Kapaa traffic mess that can occur at any and all times of the day. Any accident, even the slightest fender bender, has the potential to back up traffic for miles and turn what should have been a routine 15-minute drive into 45 minutes of frustration and overheating vehicles as cars inch along in the heat.
Now, this is nothing new. Traffic through Kapaa has long been a nightmare. Locals know this. What’s new is, the chances of traffic quickly backing up, for no apparent reason, seem to be on the rise. It doesn’t take much for traffic to suddenly turn from smooth sailing into a slow slog. One minute you think traffic isn’t so bad. The next, you’re slamming on your brakes.
When you finally get clear and free of a traffic jam, you expect to see something, like an accident. But no, nothing. It is just the usual Kapaa traffic mess, which is going to get worse before it gets better, because there are no quick-fix plans (already been tried), but there are long-term plans to add developments that will bring in more people and put more cars on the road.
Kuhio Highway in front of Wailua Golf Course and the Kauai jail remains a haven for speeders, with drivers usually going at least 50 in the 40 mph zone. If you dare go 45 mph, you’ll get the stink eye. If Kauai police so desired, they could hand out speeding tickets along this stretch all day.
The problem is, traffic bottlenecks on Kuhio Highway in front of Coco Palms. Eastbound traffic, once it clears the Wailua bridge, generally is OK to Hanamaulu and, many days, beyond, into Lihue if you stay on Kuhio Highway. But you can bet your next trip to Kapaa will include traffic tieups starting and ending with Kuhio Highway around Coco Palms, which is targeted for a major development.
If there is a common complaint from our visitors about Kauai, it is traffic. Some say they will not be back because of their experiences stuck in Kapaa’s traffic. They didn’t pay big bucks to come out here and listen to music in their cars idling under the sun. They can do that back home.
And if you talk to locals, many will tell you they avoid driving through Kapaa (or Puhi late afternoons). And mid-day traffic through Lihue is often bumper to bumper.
If you have some suggestions on alleviating traffic, or would like to hear about improvements that are in the planning stages, you might want to attend a meeting tonight.
Local and state officials will be here to find traffic solutions for the Wailua-Kapaa corridor.
State Rep. Nadine Nakamura, D-14; Ford Fuchigami, director of the state Department of Transportation; Ed Sniffen, state DOT deputy director; and other state and county officials will host a public meeting to go over proposed project improvements.
Officials will also be on hand to discuss funding options and take questions.
The meeting will take place at Kapaa Elementary School cafeteria and will run from 6-7:30 p.m.
This is our chance to hear, and be heard, on this issue.