HAENA — The county is fixing up the dirt parking lot at Haena Beach Park, located off Kuhio Highway across from the Haena Dry Cave, a project spurred by the North Shore Shuttle and heavy traffic.
Work began Wednesday to upgrade the lot, putting in parking bumpers for more streamlined parking and a paved area for shuttle passenger pickup and drop-off.
The project is expected to take four months and, during that time, there will be only enough space open for the public to park about 10 or 15 cars versus the usual estimated 60 spaces.
New parking bumpers and surface improvements to the existing lot are also on the punch list.
The County of Kauai Department of Parks and Recreation is overseeing the project, but Joel Guy of Kauai North Shore Shuttle says it was their request that prompted the $551,000 parking lot upgrade.
Mainly, it was because of what Guy called the “ripple effect” from Haena State Park’s newly renovated parking lot by Ke‘e Beach, and the new parking rules that came along with the paved, 100-stall lot.
With enforced signs forbidding parking along Kuhio Highway between Haena Beach Park and the state parking lot and the new rules reducing the amount of visitors through the park from an estimated 3,000 daily to about 900 daily, the traffic shifted down the road — to the nearest public parking at Haena Beach Park.
“There is no real, organized parking at Haena Beach Park,” Guy said. “We pushed for parking improvements. You see some real creative parking up there. We had to take that stop off our route for safety, especially with all the people, kids crossing the road.”
Eliminating about 50 parking spaces at the county beach park will put some more stress on traffic and make finding parking more difficult. But, if all goes according to plan, parking will be more organized in February when the project is finished.
The North Shore Shuttle is a new transportation system, with stops from Princeville to Haena State Park. It was born out of the need to address increasing traffic. It stops at shopping centers and lifeguarded beaches, and is aimed at serving residents and visitors.
To that end, Guy said North Shore Shuttle organizers met with community members in the Haena area to understand where the best location for a shuttle stop would be before settling on Haena Beach Park.
The shuttle made a few stops at the beach park, but the temporary, spray-painted bus stop markings weren’t lasting very long. Added to their other safety concerns, shuttle operators decided to skip the stop until it was safer.
The public is reminded to take extra caution when driving through the area, and to plan in advance for parking before a trip to Haena Beach Park and Haena State Park.
For Guy and the North Shore Shuttle, it’s worth the wait to have a stop that’s safe and functional.
“On the other side of this, we’ll have a full-fledged shuttle stop,” he said.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org