HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii’s roads are much busier lately and some lawmakers are trying to find ways to alleviate the traffic before another wave of visitors arrives in the islands.
Residents were able to drive freely when not many tourists were flying in for most of 2020, but returning back to normal also means the return of heavy traffic to some of the state’s most visited areas.
Hawaii Rep. Patrick Branco from Kailua said the number of cars on the roads is a concern for residents.
“There is a lot of concern and a lot of our constituents have been reaching out,” Branco said. “I grew up, born and raised in Kailua, we were a sleepy little beach town and now we’re a destination, and you are seeing tension between residents and those who are visiting.”
Tourism continues to be one of the state’s biggest lifelines, but lawmakers said there are ways to reduce congestion on the roads.
“It was proposed by former Senator Laura Theilen, was to give some reprieve at tour buses and stop operating on Sundays,” Branco said. “And we’re going to see push back from the industry but we need to make sure that we’re doing what’s best for our citizens and our residents.”
Branco said signs to direct people toward beaches could also help solve some confusion on the roads.
On Maui, no parking signs and warnings of a $200 ticket have been placed on Hana Highway to deter folks from stalling to capture the scenic views.
Sen. Lynn DeCoite said higher fines and tow-away zones could deter illegal parking even more.
“Now that your car is here, at this baseyard or impound, you want that car,” DeCoite said. “You’re going to pay X amount of money, and I think the higher those fines are in getting your car back and I say $1,000 sounds great to pull that car our you think twice before you park.”
Ultimately, these lawmakers said solutions should be made with consideration for the people who call Hawaii home.
“I knocked on the road of one resident, and she told me I lived in Kailua my entire life, but I don’t take my daughter to Kailua,” Branco said. “I just can’t find parking it’s too congested, and it’s not the same experience, so we go to other beaches, so these concerns have been there for a while.”