Mourning friends hope to inspire change to one of Hawaii’s most dangerous roads

Local News

It’s one of Hawaii’s most dangerous stretches of highway.

Queen Kaahumanu on Hawaii Island claimed another life 10 days ago when Cassandra Lynn Ellis was killed in a head-on collision.

Now, her two best friends are pushing to make her death something that inspires change. Both Leilani Alcain and Alicia Brunette said Cassandra was loving and oriented on her family, especially her four children.

While still deep in mourning, two of what they call the three amigos want the dangerous two-lane highway to have a median, extending a recent Department of Transportation project to the north of the airport.

“That road is a really scary road. We’re scared to even drive now,” Alcain said.

With a posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour in a 26-mile stretch from the airport to Kawaihae as a majority two-lane highway, dangerous overtaking and speeding are common with one lane in each direction.

“What I see is that our island is growing. It’s growing we’re getting more people, we’re getting more visitors,” Brunette said.

“That makes people in a rush. Road rage, passing people in places that they shouldn’t,” she added.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation popularly improved Queen Kaahumau to two lanes in each direction in an eight-mile stretch south of the airport with a median last year. The second phase, which encompassed the final five miles to the airport cost roughly $105 million dollars.

“I think that should be their number one important thing to get on is fixing our roads and I have noticed how much that little space that they did fix has helped, but they need to not stop there,” Brunette said.

The Department of Transportation released this statement to KHON2 News’ inquiry about a possible addition of lanes and a median.

“HDOT is reviewing the law enforcement reports involving this tragic incident. Our engineers and staff have been to the accident location to assess the area and our findings will help determine the best safety improvements for the route. We will work to finalize our review by the end of the month to determine the course of action.”

The project would be expensive, with estimates approaching $400 million. Alcain and Brunette aren’t putting a price on a loved one.

“They need to just hammer it and get it done. Save this from happening to anyone else’s family,” Brunette said.

“They really need to do something about that for the safety of everyone. Especially our best friend that left four girls,” Alcain added.

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