Some Leeward Oahu residents say a half-million dollar beautification project is compromising the safety of drivers.
Concrete barriers are all along the median on Farrington Highway, but there’s about a mile stretch that’s strictly lined with plants.
Rows of bushes were planted in the median near Kahe Power Plant, but they’re overgrown and drawing safety concerns.
Residents say you can’t see if a car is heading into oncoming traffic.
“I know that’s an issue I have when I come. I want to drive over on the right-hand lane because I don’t want to be the first car to get hit when a car comes through,” said Waianae resident Bryan Wittekind.
We brought this up with the state more than a year ago after a deadly accident.
In December 2013, a car went across the median and crashed head-on into a truck. Three people died, including a one-year-old girl.
Residents say that might not have happened if there was a concrete barrier there.
“Why are there bushes there in the first place?” KHON2 asked.
“From what I understand, this particular project was proposed by a previous legislator in order to beautify the entrance into the Waianae Coast,” said state Rep. Andria Tupola, R-Ewa Villages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko Olina, Kahe Point, Nanakuli, Lualualei, Maili.
“Does that make sense?” KHON2 asked.
“No,” she replied.
The bushes have become so overgrown that Wittekind took matters into his own hands and trimmed part of it.
That’s because when state crews trim the bushes, it creates another problem. They would have to close off a lane on each side, which would cause serious traffic jams.
“So it backs up going eastbound and westbound and it’s just very frustrating for everybody here on the west side,” Wittekind said.
We went to the state Department of Transportation to find out what’s being done about it.
The plan now is to keep the bushes there and put concrete barriers in. That way the half million dollars spent on the project won’t go to waste.
As far as maintaining the bushes, DOT will have roving crews instead of coning off the lanes, and will only do it in the late morning hours when traffic is light.
“We really would like a very economical solution that’s actually going to be traffic friendly for a coast that has heavy traffic every single day,” Tupola said.
The concrete barriers can be installed by June and there’s no additional cost because the state already has extra concrete barriers.