Solutions underway for North Shore traffic woes

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — For two decades, North Shore residents have been asking for a solution to deal with the gridlock at Laniakea.

North Shore residents believe the traffic in the summer of 2021 is the worst they have ever seen it.

Some residents said it takes an hour and a half to drive the eight miles between Haleiwa and Sunset Beach.

“Every day feels like Saturday or Sunday which used to be kind of bad, and now it’s like Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I live by Sunset and work in Waialua and so I see it both ways every day,” explained North Shore resident John Pyzel.

Between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., it could take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get through the area.

“It’s just ridiculous and it all kind of stems from right here,” Pyzel said.

The reason? Thousands of people darting across Kamehameha Highway all day to look at turtles.

“For the residents, it’s like we’re suffering so that people can come visit here and I think it’s great people come here, but there has to be some sort of a balance where it’s not bad for the residents, and to be honest it’s bad for the tourists. They’re not stoked either so how do we balance it out and that’s what we need to work on,” Pyzel added.

Several months ago, City-owned land was cleared out behind the area people currently park, and a fence was built that sat idle for months.

On Friday, the city parks director went to the area, and the city and state have said they’re working to come up with a short-term, mid-term and long-term solution.

The quick fix is making the fenced off area into a parking lot with some type of guardrail providing an entrance and exit point for cars. The entrance point would be from the Haleiwa side with an exit point near the Waimea end of Laniakea.

“We’re going to work with the city to look at the ingress and egress points for the parking lot, and also pedestrian walkways for where we should put it in,” explained state highways deputy director Ed Sniffen.

Officials said that plan would minimize cars from entering and exiting at all point like they currently do, and that project could be completed within months.

Sniffen says Kamehameha Highway at Laniakea has about 10 years before it starts being inundated by erosion and high surf.

“The initial plan [for the area] was to move [the highway] 500 feet inland and get it out of the inundation zone,” Sniffen explained. “Make sure that it is resilient and we don’t have to touch it again, but that’s a $65 to $70 million option.”

He said that would take 15 years to complete.

“We know that the situation can’t wait that long, so instead of looking at the larger realignment further inland and all the way to Chun’s, we’re looking at a smaller realignment that just gets us past Laniakea. It’s going to be about $10 million,” he explained. “It’ll relocate the highway about 50 feet from the existing roadway.”

Parking would then be on the makai side.

That plan is under an environmental assessment which will be finalized by the end of August.

“And if there’s public support for this positive support for this we can finish it by the end of this year, which would allow us to get into the design phase and get out a design that that can be bid to contractors by fall of next year,” Sniffen said.

He said that project could be completed 18 months later.  

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