Backlogs and traffic congestion have plagued the area fronting Kalapawai Market in Kailua for years.
Beginning Monday, Oct. 2, the city will reconfigure the triangular intersection at S. Kalaheo Avenue and Kailua Road into a roundabout.
“We are very hopeful that this will address the traffic stalemate has occurred in this community for a long time,” said Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson said.
The project will cost $350,000. Construction will be done Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The city said that it would take between three and six months to complete.
The project will require the temporary closure of Kailua Road and/or S. Kalaheo Avenue, with traffic to be rerouted or contraflowed during construction.
Special-duty police officers will also be on hand to help facilitate drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists safely through the area while maintaining access to area residences and businesses.
All roadway users are urged to use caution when driving, walking, or bicycling through the intersection.
“The city is going to do everything possible to ensure that the inconvenience to the community is minimal,” Anderson said.
The plan for the Kailua roundabout also takes pedestrian safety into account.
Complete Streets administrator Mike Packard said, “With the reconstruction of the intersection as a roundabout, an additional crosswalk, marked crosswalk will be added to the mauka side of the intersection of Kailua Road, enabling people to cross from one side to the next in front of the Island Snow area. The existing crosswalk on the Kaneohe side of the intersection will remain, but be enhanced through medians in addition to an offset working with the roundabout enabling traffic to flow while pedestrians have less of an impact on traffic congestion.”
According to the city, the project received the support of the Lanikai Association, the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle, and the Kailua Urban Design Task Force.
Lanikai Association president Thomas Cestare said he believes the roundabout will help improve the lives of everyone who lives in the area, and will make visiting Kailua Beach and Lanikai more enjoyable for locals and tourists.
There are at least a dozen roundabouts in Hawaii. Packard explained how the roundabout in Kailua will work.
“All traffic will proceed in a counter-clockwise direction around the intersection,” Packard said. “All vehicles approaching the roundabout will have to yield to other vehicles within that area. So as you approach the intersection, yield to vehicles within. Those people have right of way to get out of the roundabout in their desired direction.”
KHON2 reached out to Richard Kawano, a member of the Makiki Neighborhood Board, to ask about the roundabout located at the intersection of Keeaumoku and Heulu streets.
Kawano said that the roundabout has helped in that area.
“I think it speeds up the flow of traffic. That’s the general idea, and plus it slows — it was a traffic calming device,” he said.
Nicholas Kanakanui lives in Makiki and uses the roundabout daily.
“I would say it’s actually pretty good on traffic. It’s pretty convenient,” Kanakanui said.
“Has it made it safer?” KHON2 asked.
“It depends on the drivers,” Kanakanui said. “Most people slow down, but specifically people like motorcycles and mopeds, they kind of just fly around and don’t even listen to the yield signs.”