LIHUE — “You folks haven’t fixed the traffic, yet,” said a visitor, Ken Van Gaver, Saturday at the Kauai Community Market at the Kauai Community College. “It’s not just for us visitors, it’s for your businesses.”
The unsolicited comment set the tone for some of the issues facing Kauai in 2019 as the island recovers from its holiday mode and gets down to business.
“There needs to be more four-lane segments so traffic can flow,” Van Gaver offered. “I see a lot of business trucks who just have to sit in the line like the rest of us. And, the bike path in Kapaa? It needs to be extended to Nawiliwili.”
Matthew Kawamura of Lihue agreed that traffic is a major concern for residents.
“I don’t know about issues,” Kawamura said. “But traffic? Yes, especially through Kapaa and at the Kauai Community College section.”
And there are other areas, like in Kalaheo and the eastbound traffic from the Westside, and occasionally, through the main thoroughfare in Hanapepe.
Kelsi Ogata, of Kapaa, said she thought traffic has gotten worse, not better.
“I”m the wrongest person to ask about issues,” Ogata said. “But traffic has got to be the number one problem here. In Kapaa, it has gotten worse. It’s not like before when there was traffic only at certain times of the day. Now, it’s always!”
Ogata said with Derek Kawakami as the new mayor, she is hoping something will be done.
“This is a tough one,” Kawamura said. “Maybe they need to put in a really big roundabout to keep traffic moving and slowing it down so it’s safer.”
Jet Levinthol of Kapaa said something needs to be done about the traffic.
“Traffic is a problem,” Levinthol said. “Something needs to be done because whatever has been done is not enough. Maybe we can open up some of the cane roads. We need to make another highway.”
Z. Zumwalt of Wailua said traffic doesn’t hurt people.
“I’m going to catch some heat for that,” Zumwalt said. “But it’s true — traffic doesn’t hurt people. There are bigger issues, like we need to rebuild the North Shore. I go out there with Mr. T’s to work on pest control, and conditions are terrible out there — especially for people who are in the convoys.”
Zumwalt, who recently opened The Flip Flop Shop at the Kukui Grove Center, said Hanalei was one of the areas they were looking at opening.
“We know a guy who lives in the area accessible through the convoys,” Zumwalt said. “Once, he missed the time and spent hours waiting in Princeville. It’s terribly inconvenient. If we had opened in Hanalei at the same time we did at Kukui Grove, the rains and floods came 12 days later. Where would we be today?”
Debra Lucas of Puhi, a retired business manager, said all she knows about she gets through the news.
“Affordable housing,” she said. “That has to be the top concern facing the island — housing that is in keeping with the wages available on the island.”
One of the items on her hope list is work done to Morgan’s Ponds at Lydgate Park.
“That’s one of my favorite places,” Lucas said. “There’s just one small area that’s left that’s deep. The rest of the areas were filled in from the storms. I’d like to see the Morgan’s Ponds re-dredged so there are the deep areas, again. And, the sea wall? I’d like to see that built up again.”