Senator unveils plan to realign highway fronting Laniakea Beach

Senator unveils plan to realign highway fronting Laniakea Beach

NORTH SHORE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian green sea turtles were the stars of the show Saturday morning at Laniakea beach.

"It's very exciting to see them right up on the beach," sightseer Denise McCarthy said.

But the sightseeing is always a balance between public access and protecting the endangered species.

"I think they've done a good job here. They've got the ropes up. Folks are all respectful," Patrick McCarthy said.

State Sen. Clayton Hee thinks the state could do a better job. He believes erosion has highway that fronts the beach on a fast track to failure.

"If the state doesn't become proactive, this highway will be under water sooner than we think," he said.

Hee wants the state to buy the land mauka of the highway from Laniakea Beach to Chun's Reef. The property belongs to Kamehameha schools.

"Kamehameha has always been willing to engage in the process and they've been supportive. They're ready to help when the time comes," said former state representative Gil Riviere.

The state would fund the purchase through bonds that could be paid off over the next 25 years.

"With the highway erosion they've known for quite some time that the realignment would require their property being looked at," Hee said.

He wants to build a wayside park makai of the realigned highway. it would be simililar to the wayside parks at the Pali Lookout and Makapuu.  The public could park there and the Department of Land and Natural Resources would have a staging area for emergencies that involve the turtles.

"There's no telling when moving the highway that the population may increase. There may be monk seals that visit," Hee said.

A new highway would include a half lane for bicycles and pedestrians. UH Sea Grant College Program scientist Dolan Eversole thinks realignment would encourage the shoreline to expand.

"As a coastal geologist I'm pretty confidant that the shoreline will grow greatly. It will move landward," he said.

Hee also wants the state to fund a UH Sea Grant study to create a beach management plan for the entire North Shore, including Rocky Point which has been torn up by high surf.

"The high surf is not a surprise and the highway has been eroding for decades," he said.

Hee will meet with Kamehameha Schools Monday to discuss his highway realignment idea.

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