HALEIWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oahu's North Shore commuters, get ready to slow down. Starting Monday, the speed limit in a heavily-used stretch of Kamehameha Highway near Haleiwa will be reduced from 45 miles per hour to 35.
Some are puzzled by the change. They say during the day, the area often gets so congested that it's difficult to get up to 10 miles an hour, let alone 35.
Each day, residents and tourists alike flock to Laniakea to enjoy the beach and the sea turtles. Many park on the mauka side of Kamehameha Highway and jaywalk to get there.
"You have to be really careful and watch on both sides," Monika Egli, visitor from Switzerland, said. "I believe if you have children or anything else, it's even more dangerous or difficult."
In an effort to reduce the potential for pedestrian accidents, the state Department of Transportation is decreasing the speed limit in a 1.1 mile section leading to Laniakea. The north-bound lane of Kamehameha Highway from the north end of Haleiwa Bypass Road to Papailoa Road will go from 45 miles per hour to 35.
"I think having a crosswalk is better because you never know if people are concerned about speed limits," Egli said.
The North Shore Neighborhood Board chair says the change is not something the board requested and may catch longtime area commuters off-guard.
"I'm concerned with the public," Mike Lyons, board chair, said. "I don't want them getting caught and, all of the sudden, they have a ticket and they say where did that come from."
While the area has had its share of serious crashes at night, residents say during the day, when there's heavy pedestrian traffic, the cars on the highway are often bumper to bumper.
"It's hard to even get up to 45, right?" this reporter asked.
"Yes, it's hard to get up to 30," Lyons replied.
Lyons says what the community would like to see is a solution to the traffic jam around Laniakea.
"We need a bypass," he said. "We need some help out here because people can't even leave their homes. It takes an hour and a half to get from Haleiwa to Sunset and it's only eight miles."
Transportation officials say the change will also allow for safer turns into and out of side streets.
The speed limit for the south-bound lane has long been 35 miles per hour.